City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) released his ‘Next Chapter For New York City’ plan Monday and couched in it was to give a third term to city council members.
The City Council Speaker candidate is actively drafting legislation to allow councilmembers to serve three terms rather than the current two. Williams plans to sponsor legislation at the end of the year, but will seek voter’s approval of the bill through a referendum.
“I believe that in order to truly strengthen the power of the Legislative branch in our municipality, councilmembers should have the opportunity to serve for three terms while the executive serves for two terms – similar to how the legislative branch extends beyond the executive branch at the federal level,” said Williams.
According to Williams’ plan, the mayor, public advocate or borough president will not be eligible to seek a third term.
The three-term limit was last voted down in 2010, two years after councilmembers voted to approve a term-extension measure that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated. That was the third time New Yorkers voted to restrict terms to two, four-year limits –– once in 1993 and again in 1996.
Councilmember-elect Alicka Samuel (D-Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, East Flatbush) disagreed with Williams, but expressed concern about the mass departure that will occur in 2021 when 38 of the 51 council members will be term-limited.
“I do not agree with extending council terms because the people have already spoken,” said Samuel. “However, there is definitely a need to have a conversation with the public to create a better balance when almost two thirds of the members have to leave because of term limits at the same time.”
Williams, who was elected in 2009, will begin his third term next year and will not be eligible to run for an additional term should the referendum pass. The councilmember is one of several members elected before the 2010 referendum vote that ended the 2-year session that permitted extra term.
“Critics may believe that the voters have permanently decided this matter – I would counter that even good ideas need tweaking some time because they have unintended consequences,” wrote Williams in his 17-page plan.
Councilmember-elect Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach) also disagrees with Williams and the other eight candidates that are vying for the speaker seat, but was in accordance with the proposal of a referendum.
“I think term limits are fine the way they are, but ultimately the people should decide, not the politicians,” said Brannan.
In addition to extended term limits, Williams called for a review of the overall number of committees in the city council, greater freedom to initiate more land use projects and a current Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Internship Program to encourage young women interested in public service careers –– in light of the gradual decline of female elected officials.
The ‘New Deal’ for New York also focuses on expanding summer youth employment and apprenticeship programs, and offering free SAT Prep courses and tuition to City University of New York (CUNY) community colleges.
“It’s time our city tackle the social, cultural and structural issues we face today with the same concerted efforts and valor [as the original New Deal],” wrote Williams.