2010-12-10 / Top Stories

Term Limit Loophole Allows For Third Terms

By Nicholas Briano

Erich Ulrich at the press conference outside City Hall to protest the term limits loophole. Erich Ulrich at the press conference outside City Hall to protest the term limits loophole. The great majority of voters who came out on Election Day and voted in favor of restoring term limits may not realize that a last minute loophole inserted into the referendum doesn’t enable the law until 2021. This allows most City Council members to run for a third term in the 2013 election.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich has joined the argument, which is spearheaded by the new activist group New York Civic, to close the loophole and allow the restoration of term limits to take effect for the 2013 City Council election. The loophole, most commonly re-ferred to as a “grandfather” clause, allows 34 City Council members, who are either currently serving their first or second term in the Council, to run for a third term either in 2013 or 2017 before the law changes officially in 2021.

Ulrich joined New York Civic founder and former New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Henry J. Stern on the steps of City Hall recently to raise awareness of the loophole. As of this date, Ulrich is the only elected official and beneficiary of this “grandfather” clause who is against the loophole. As a result, he’s urging other members of the Council to step forward and support the referendum voters thought they were voting for on November 2.

“I imagine that other members of the Council will be compelled to join the effort once it gains momentum,” he told The Wave.

Ulrich said that closing the loop-hole is all about fairness to the voters of the city and his local constituents who want to restore term limits as soon as possible.

“It comes down to what you think is right. I could easily run for three terms. But it’s about the people. They voted for term limits three times already. This is what they obviously want.”

Ulrich said he and other council members became aware of the loophole just three weeks before Election Day. The same council members that received an endorsement from good government advocates Citizens Union, because they favored term limits, will benefit from the loophole. Those same council members, Ulrich said, have a moral obligation to stand up for restoring term limits in time for the 2013 election.

Stern hopes that the cause will become widespread public knowledge, which will bring about another term limits referendum in 2011. He would like New Yorkers to decide again if the referendum they voted 74 percent in favor of on Election Day will go into effect at the next Council election, in 2013, or will be delayed an additional eight years to 2021.

For more information on Stern’s proposal visit nycivic.org.

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