Term limits spark heated debate at Yonkers City Council meeting as vote is scheduled for tonight

Hundreds of people packed a Yonkers City Council meeting Monday night to debate the pros and cons of term limits for city politicians.

The Yonkers City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to extend term limits for the mayor and council members without putting it before the voters as a referendum question next November.

The measure would allow city politicians to serve four four-year terms, or 16 years, instead of the current limit of three four-year terms.

It would also open the door for Yonkers Democratic Mayor Mike Spano to run again once his third term expires late next year. Republican Councilman Mike Breen, who just lost an election to oust New York State Assemblyman Nader Sayegh, and Democratic Councilwoman Corazon Pineda-Isaac are also in their third term.

In 1994, the people of Yonkers voted for a two-term limit. Then, in 2001, the issue of term limits came up again, and voters overwhelmingly rejected an effort to make a change.

But in 2018, the city council voted to expand the term limits from two terms to three, without giving the public a chance to vote, and there was quite a bit of backlash.

Last Tuesday, the groups packed the legislative chamber when the council voted 4-2 (Breen was absent) to take the amendment out of committee and bring it to a regular meeting for an official vote.

Those in favor of extending term limits say they support the direction Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano has taken the city since he was first elected in 2011. “Under his leadership, the quality of life has improved And under his leadership, our city has benefited.” said a speaker.

Opponents argued that the City Council should not be able to make Democracy type decisions without allowing the public to vote on it. “I’m left with the conclusion that those of you who vote yes will do so not as public servants but for personal gain,” said another speaker.

The room was fairly divided with many signs saying “four more years” and others shouting “let the voters decide.” The council is scheduled to vote on the measure tonight in the legislative chambers beginning at 7 p.m. speak one more time before the vote, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.

YONKERS POLICIES AND TERMS

Mike Spano (D), mayor
Elected in 2011, 2015 and 2019
Current term: Third*

Lakisha Collins Bellamy (D), President
Elected in 2021
Current Term: First

Tasha Diaz (D), Majority Leader
Elected in 2019
Current Term: First

Mike Breen (R), Minority Leader
Elected in 2011, 2015 and 2019
Current term: Third*

Shanae Williams (D)
Elected 2018 (appointed), 2019 (elected)
Current Term: First

Heart Pineda Isaac (D)
Elected in 2013, 2017 and 2021
Current term: Third*

John Rubbo (D), Majority Whip
Elected in 2017, 2021
Current term: Second

Antonio Merante (right)
Elected in 2017, 2021
Current term: Second

(*Cannot run for re-election unless term limits are extended)

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