Once Again, City Voters Approve Term Limits
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| Issues
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, Term Limits
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| Wednesday 3 November 2010 12:23 PM

From The New York Times

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New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly to limit politicians to two consecutive terms on Tuesday, undoing a highly contentious change to the law pushed through by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
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two years ago.

It was the third time since 1993 that city voters endorsed the notion of two four-year terms and no more for the mayor and other elected city officials.

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, 74 percent of city voters supported a two-term limit, while 26 percent opposed it.

The vote was a repudiation of the tactics used in 2008 by Mr. Bloomberg and his allies in the City Council

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, who supported a bill
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to allow three terms despite criticism that they had usurped the democratic process.

But much of the frustration of two years ago has cooled, and the vote on Tuesday, overshadowed by a contest for governor and make-or-break Congressional races, seemed more an act of quiet rebellion than a scathing rebuke.

Still, voters said they were pleased to have the opportunity to finally weigh in on the matter, though two years later.

“The way it was slammed through was rather distasteful and disingenuous,” said Gianni Sellers, 54, a banker who lives on the Upper West Side. “The voters have spoken on this before. I hope we don’t have to do it again.”

New Yorkers voted in support of a two-term limit in 1993 and in 1996, riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment nationwide epitomized by the slogan “throw the bums out.”

The measure approved on Tuesday was devised to prevent a repeat of the backroom politicking in 2008. Council members will be prohibited from making changes to term-limits laws that affect their own political careers.

But incumbents will be offered some consolation

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: if they were elected before Tuesday, they will still be allowed to run for a third term. The two-term limit will only apply to those elected this year and beyond.

That will delay putting the law fully into effect until 2021, when the newest class of city politicians, those elected in 2009, has the opportunity to finish a third four-year term.

Opponents of the two-term limit said it would make government less effective by disposing with leaders as soon as they had gained the experience to govern efficiently.

“With two terms, they have to split their time between minding the store and running for their next office,” said Ruth E. Acker, president of the Women’s City Club of New York, a civic organization. “They’re inclined to favor things that win them Brownie points in the short term.”

Supporters of term limits seized on the anti-establishment fervor that swept through much of the country. Ronald S. Lauder

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, the billionaire cosmetics heir, financed advertisements comparing politicians to dirty diapers
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in need of a change.

Even Mr. Bloomberg, who believed so zealously in a third term that he was willing to sacrifice some popularity, said he would vote in favor of a two-term limit.

“I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all,” he said Tuesday. “The public clearly wants to go back to two terms.”

Some feared the term-limits question would be ignored

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because it was placed on the back of the ballot and formatted in small print. Poll workers made special efforts to point out the referendum questions, but some voters still found the format confusing.

Gloria Hines, 54, a retired postal worker, smiled as she walked out of a poll site in Harlem with her husband, Denny. Then she realized neither of them had filled out the referendum questions.

“I forgot all about it,” Ms. Hines said, her good mood having faded. “Why would they put it on the back?”

In addition to the term-limits question, voters supported, by a vote of 83 percent to 17 percent, a second referendum item that called for several changes to city law, with 87 percent of precincts reporting.

The changes include reducing the number of signatures required to get on the ballot, requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by independent groups and raising the maximum fine for violating conflicts of interest law.

J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

Other term limits news across the country:

http://www.myvalleynews.com/story/52101/

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http://naperville.patch.com/articles/term-limits-to-be-created-for-city-council

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http://www.farragutpress.com/articles/2010/11/13263.html

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http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20101103/NEWS03/11030330/Voters-hold-line-on-DA-term-limits

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http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/oregon_election_results_multno.html

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For more information about Howard Rich, see wikipedia
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blogs at howierich.wordpress.com
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