Add Borough President Marty Markowitz to the list of officials asking Mayor Michael Bloomberg to stake out a definitive position on extending or overturning term limits for all elected city officials.
“The mayor is not saying bring on the [extending term limits] bill, and he has to tell the City Council to bring on the bill. He’s got to say it,” said Markowitz.
Markowitz said the City Council does not want to be put in a position where they pass a bill to extend the two four-year term limit to another term only to have Bloomberg veto it.
“It has to be a cooperative effort between the Council and the mayor,” he said.
Markowitz said his own position is that there should be no term limits, and that people have the right to vote out an incumbent every time they are up for re-election.
People made this choice of term limits in two citywide referendums and that must be respected, but there should be a discussion to change that to a maximum of three terms instead of two terms, he said.
Markowitz reasoned that currently elected city officials spend their first term learning the ropes of the position, and then have to spend their second term thinking about another job.
A third term and being in office for 12 years is a more reasonable amount of time to get things done for constituents and to think about one’s future, he said.
Markowitz’s comments come after Bloomberg has publicly stated he is open to the idea of expanding the term limits. He has also reportedly spoken to editorial boards at several of the city’s newspapers about garnering support for an expansion of term limits.
This led to City Comptroller and possible mayoral candidate William Thompson saying last week that Bloomberg should “clearly state his position, and not continue this charade.”
Bloomberg spokesperson Stu Loesser said the mayor does not offer views on hypothetical situations and won’t talk about possible term-limit legislation that doesn’t exist.
As to the debate on whether term limits for all elected city officials should be expanded from two terms to three, Loesser said the mayor will not focus on the issue until after the presidential election in November.
Markowitz, however, contended it is not in the city’s best interests for the mayor to bide his time on the issue.
“There’s a number of elected officials in that situation now that spend little time in the districts they serve because they are looking at their next job,” said Markowitz.
Markowitz said that if such a measure were passed, he would run for a third term as borough president.
If a term limit extension is not passed, Markowitz said he will continue to entertain the possibility of a run for mayor.
Having the issue undecided also plays havoc with campaign contributions where maximum donations differ depending on the office for which a candidate is running.
For example, in Markowitz’s run for mayor, the maximum individual contribution is $4,950, while if he ran again for borough president the maximum individual contribution is $3,950.
“So that means if they expand term limits for three terms, I will have to return $1,000 to each of them, and that’s fair. I have no problem with that whatsoever,” said Markowitz.
The issue of expanding term limits will also affect 11 of the 16 borough City Council members who under the current law will be term limited out.
Among these are Bill de Blasio and Charles Barron, who have both announced they are running for borough president, David Yassky, who is running for City Comptroller, and Kendall Stewart and Simcha Felder, who are both running for the same Senate seat against incumbent Kevin Parker.
“Right now, I’m running for borough president and everything is theoretical at this point,” said de Blasio.
De Blasio said he favors a third term for legislators, but not executive branch officeholders and only if the new measure were approved by voters in a referendum.
“I won’t be surprised if there is no change and things stay on track. The mayor started talking out loud about this, but nothing has happened — no piece of legislation or referendum proposal,” said de Blasio.
De Blasio emphasized that citywide primaries are only one year and two weeks away, which isn’t a lot of time.
“As a [borough president] candidate I’m going all over Brooklyn in the coming weeks. That’s what I’m focused on right now,” said de Blasio.
City Councilmember Lew Fidler, who is against term limits, said he would run for City Council for a third term is it were allowed.
However, the City Council will probably not act on a measure to allow a third term unless they are assured that Mayor Bloomberg would sign the measure, he said.
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