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Give New Yorkers What They Want: Term Limits

Recently, Unite NY polled 800 New Yorkers and found enormous support - 80% - for term limits for statewide elected officials.

Recently, Unite NY polled 800 New Yorkers and found enormous support - 80% - for term limits for statewide elected officials. Chris Chen

There aren’t too many things a vast majority of New Yorkers agree upon. However, there is one issue that 80% of New Yorkers support: Term Limits. Over the last few years, there’s been a big push to make New York more progressive, but when it comes to our elections, the Empire State has a long way to go to show progress in our elections and meet the demands of voters.  

You can’t call yourselves “progressive,” when a mere 10% of voters think the State is ahead of the curve in election reform and you’re one of just 13 states lacking term limits for the office of Governor. Recently, my organization Unite NY, polled 800 New Yorkers from across the state and found enormous support - 80% - for term limits for statewide elected officials. 

You would think this level of support would lead to an immediate change, especially from elected officials from New York City. But it’s actually legislators from other parts of the state, Western and Central New York, as well as Long Island that have heard this call and taken action. Western New York Assemblymember Monica Wallace, introduced legislation which meets these demands for term limits, calling for the governor, lieutenant-governor, comptroller, and attorney-general to be limited to three terms. This bill is a logical and common sense first step to build on voting reforms already enacted by the state legislature, including mail-in and early voting.   More importantly, it would be an incredible gesture to voters feeling hopeless and powerless, especially in a year when those same voters are being forced to choose between two wildly unpopular Presidential candidates.

Let’s not forget what happens when elected officials overstay their welcome. In the last two decades alone, New York has seen TWO Governors and a Lieutenant Governor forced to resign taken down by corruption scandals, the State Comptroller convicted of corruption, and the State  Attorney General resign over allegations of abuse. If that’s not a public service announcement for term limits, I don’t know what is.

Let’s be clear, Term limits won’t solve all the ills of state government, but it’s a first step.  We must do more to ensure more voters in New York have access to better options and perspectives among our elected officials, not lifetime office appointments and career politicians. 12 years is an entire NFL career - it is more than enough time for our statewide elected officials to see their job through. 

We need to make sure that there are more election reform champions who will give New Yorkers what they want. There is bipartisan support (the Governor proposed it in her 2022 State of the State) and Republican Leaders in Albany have also touted term limits). Now we need support from State Senators and the Assembly who represent New York City who were so vocal about voting reforms a year ago, by supporting and sponsoring term limits for New York’s statewide elected officials.

When mail-in and early voting were being considered, the argument made by the sponsors was these bills would improve democracy in New York State. Thankfully, these bills became law and more New Yorkers have access to vote. But imagine if we could do something that’s by the people for the people, as described by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburgh Address. The people want term limits, so let’s give them what they want.