How can we expect the same old politicians running for their same old gerrymandered seats bring new ideas to Albany?

problem
New York has no term limits for the governor, the attorney general, the state comptroller, state senators or assemblypersons.  This has resulted in a small group of people staying in the same positions for years with total power over state policy and actions.  The other senators and assemblypersons have no ability to get rid of the old guard, and hence, no willingness to even try, since their position and perks are determined by their seniors.  The result is a stultifying, corrupt and undemocratic mess.

solution
New York needs a constitutional amendment that limits the governor, the attorney general and the state comptroller to two consecutive 4-year terms, and the state senators and assemblymen limited to seven consecutive 2-year terms.

There are two types of term limits: absolute, where the officeholder has a lifetime limit to the number of terms – for example, a president can only server two terms; and consecutive, where the number of back-to-back terms is limited but the officeholder could run again after someone else serves a term.  New York City currently has consecutive term limits, so in theory, Michael Bloomberg could run for mayor again.

Bill Samuels of EffectiveNY recommends the consecutive approach.

What do you think?

• “The more secure an office holder, the more his interests would diverge from those of his constituents.” --Andrew Jackson• On Election Day - Tuesday, November 4 - more than a third of all races for seats in the New York State Legislature, 74 out of 213, feature a candidate running unopposed. The same holds true when you zoom in on New York City, where 21 of 63 races are uncontested: http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5406-uncontested-democracy-new-york-ballots-offer-voters-startlingly-little-choice

• A study of 2002 legislative elections by the National Conference of State Legislatures, for instance, found that only two states had senates with a lower turnover rate than New York. Only three statehouses had lower turnover rates than the New York Assembly: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/nyregion/27incumbent.html?_r=0

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  ARTICLE III — Legislature
§2. … The senators …  shall be chosen for two years … The assembly members … shall be chosen for two years.

ARTICLE IX– Local Governments
§2. (c) In addition to powers granted in the statute of local governments or any other law, (i) every local government shall have power to adopt … terms of office …, except that cities and towns shall not have such power with respect to members of the legislative body of the county in their capacities as county officers.

ARTICLE XIII–Public Officers
§2. When the duration of any office is not provided by this constitution it may be declared by law, and if not so declared, such office shall be held during the pleasure of the authority making the appointment.

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In New York, according to the state constitution, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and state comptroller are elected to four year terms, and state senators and assembly persons to two year terms.  However, there is no limit to how many terms any candidate might have.  Louis Lefkowitz, for example, was attorney general for nearly 22 years.  This has remained true despite the fact that term limits have always been popular with the voters.

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  • According to Ballotopedia, 15 state legislatures have term limits. In the United States as a whole, there are 1,972 state senate seats and 5,411 state house seats. 562 of the 1,972 state senate seats, or 28.5%, come with a limit. 1,368 of the 5,411 state house seats, or 25%, come with a limit. Of the total of 7,383 state legislative seats, 1,930 (26.1%) are limited.

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learn
2017 State of the State,” Governor Andrew Cuomo, January, 2017.

California Rethinks Term Limits, Again,” by Chris Kardish, Governing, February, 2014.

California Term Limits,” League of Women Voters of California.

Corruption cauldron: To fix Albany — term limits,” by Tim Hoefer, The New York Post, January 27, 2015.

The Effects of Legislative Term Limits,” By Jennifer Drage Bowser, The Council of State Governments, 2005.

The Effects of Term Limits on State Legislatures,” by John M. Carey, Richard G. Niemi and Lynda W. Powell, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2 (May, 1998), pp. 271-300.

Fair Elections for New York State,” Citizens Union, November, 2012.

Frequently Asked Questions About Term Limits,” National Conference of State Legislators.

How Have Term Limits Affected the California Legislature?” Public Policy Institute of California, Issue #94, November 2004.

NYC Term Limits Revisited,” by Mark Berkey-Gerard, Gotham Gazette, March 14, 2005.

Once Again, City Voters Approve Term Limits,” by Javier C. Hernandez, November 3, 2010.

State Legislatures with Term Limits,” Ballotopedia.

Term Limits for Municipal Elected Officials: Executive and Legislative Branches,” by Patrick J. Egan, Ph.D., prepared for the New York City Charter Revision Commission, June 2010.

The Truth About Term Limits,” by Alan Greenblatt, Governing, 2006.

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