When it comes to term limits, how much clearer do New York City voters have to be?

Three times in the last 25 years, a citywide referendum was held on the issue and all three times it passed overwhelmingly. While Michael Bloomberg will be praised for a lot of things, he also should be remembered as the mayor who power-grabbed his way into a third term by pushing lawmakers to overturn term limits.

One bit of collateral damage in that move was Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker who went along with Bloomberg’s plan in the hopes of better positioning her own run for City Hall four years later. On the other side of the term-limits battle was Bill de Blasio, a City Councilman who was running for Public Advocate in 2009 and opposed the move.

It’s important to note that four years earlier, it was a different story for de Blasio and other candidates for City Council speaker – all of whom spoke out against term limits as they were trying to lobby their colleagues for support. We’re now hearing the same song play again on the city’s political jukebox as a different group of candidates try to become the next City Council speaker. And it’s the same broken record.

Already safely elected to office, the eight Councilmen don’t have to worry about voters punishing them for their term-limits position for at least four years. But it’s fair to point to Christine Quinn and remind them that voters – and political opponents – sometimes have long memories.

You can like term limits or hate them but the voters have spoken – repeatedly. It’s not too late for this group of candidates to show that when it comes to the will of the voters, they’re not the hateful eight. 


Bob Hardt