Over 125 people showed up at Yonkers City Hall on Monday night to speak on the issue, and the council did not vote until they all had their turn. An additional 500 people sent emails into the Yonkers city clerks office about the hot button issue, with the vast majority being in favor of the term limit extension. Term limit extension was voted down during public referendums in 1994 and 2001.
YONKERS – The City Council voted early Tuesday morning to extend term limits from two to three terms.
After several hours of a public hearing in which residents voiced support and opposition, the council voted after midnight, with five members in favor and two against.
More than 100 people signed up to speak and many of them left without speaking because the public hearing lasted hours. The 7 p.m. public hearing drew many of the citys civic, business and labor leaders.
Many of those who spoke in favor of extending the term limit spoke of Mayor Mike Spanos leadership and the positive direction the city is taking. Council members who voted in support of the measure cited positive feedback from constituents as their reason for supporting the extension.
“Things are going very, very well,” said Kevin Cacace, president of the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce and a Spano-appointed trustee of the Board of Education, who rejected arguments that adding a third four-year term disenfranchised voters.
Terry Lucadamo of the Colonial Heights Association of Taxpayers, said they citys term limits should align with Westchester Countys three-term limit. She argued that every election is an opportunity for voters unhappy with their representatives.
“A change of term limits does not mean they are going to win their seats,” Lucadamo said at the hearing.
Those who spoke against the extension said the public should be allowed to vote in a referendum and they also criticized the rushed process the City Council used to extend term limits. City Council President Mike Khader and Councilwoman Corazon Pineda Isaac both stated they voted no because of the process.
“We voted twice for term limits and now term limits are out the door,” said Barbara Smith, president of the Hudson River Community Association of Northwest Yonkers. “It is a sad day.”
The two-term limit on city elected office dates to 1994. In 2001, the issue re-emerged and voters overwhelmingly rejected an effort to repeal the limit.
Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, questioned the City Councils process.
“For us at the executive board, it is not so much a question as to whether term limits should remain or not, but whether the people have a voice,” Rosado-Ciriello said.
The proposal to extend term limits was introduced late on Oct. 19, with a public hearing only announced late Thursday. By contrast, the City Council recently spent more than a month discussing the merits of a symbolic, nonbinding resolution related to creating a day program for the homeless before they voted on it.
The vote to extend term limits means that Spano and councilmen Mike Breen and Michael Sabatino can seek third terms in next years election.
“I realize the progress that weve made,” said Sabatino, cited Mondays announcement of the $16 million sale of the Chicken Island parking lot. “These accomplishments and more have come to fruition under Mayor Spanos leadership and the council coordination.”
“If you were keeping score tonight, my score tonight was 49 citizens are for the extension, 34 expressed that they were not for the extension. Many of the negative responses referred to past failed proposals to abolish term limits. For the record, we are not doing away with term limits,” said Breen, adding that the City Council received more than 400 emails supporting the extension and 16 emails against.
During the public hearing, fire union president Barry McGoey accused Spano, Sabatino and Breen of packing City Hall with their supporters and making phone calls to constituents to get them to voice their support for the change.