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A “New Deal” for NYC—And Longer Term Limits for the City Council

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Councilman Jumaane Williams. (Photo by William Alatriste/NYC Council)

As part of his bid for the role of Speaker of the New York City Council, Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-45) has released a plan for the “Next Chapter for New York City,” suggesting a number of ways to improve the city council, along with a “New Deal” for NYC that would increase youth employment. 

Also, the East Flatbush politician wants to increase term limits for the City Council, allowing its members to serve for more than a decade.

The final proposal comes at the end of the 17-page document, wherein Williams suggests increasing the current limit of two four-year terms to three four-year terms through a referendum vote.

“I can personally testify that Members need at least three potential terms to truly be successful in representing their constituencies,” wrote Williams, who described a councilmember’s first term as “an exercise in learning on the job.”

Due to the “arduous” and “lengthy” budget and legislative process in the City Council, Williams says “you really need 12 years to see major projects through to fruition.”

New Yorkers voted in favor of a two-term limit for City Council members in 1993, then upheld their decision by voting down a Council proposal to extend term limits in 1996.

In 2008, under then-Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council voted 29-22 to extend term limits themselves, instead of by public referendum. Voters responded by upholding the two-term limit law in a 2010 referendum, which allowed a small number of City Council members, elected in the interim, an opportunity to serve three terms.

In Williams’ plan, he states “its [sic] time to take the issue back to the voters.” The Councilmember plans to introduce term limit legislation shortly in order to put the issue in front of voters.

A spokesperson for Council Member Williams clarified that the proposed increase in term limits wouldn’t affect Williams, who is currently entering his third term.

If passed, the referendum would appear on the ballot for the next general election no less than 90 days away, which could mean November 2018. The new City Council Speaker will be selected in January 2018.

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