Term Limit Plan Called ‘Totally Un-American’
Some New Yorkers seem thrilled about the prospect of extending the terms for city officials. Others, however, are unhappy about the idea being proposed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to extend to three, from two, the number of terms a city official can serve. Some are even angry about the proposal.
United States Representative Nydia M. Velázquez falls firmly in that latter category.
“It is totally wrong. It is totally un-American. It is totally undemocratic to overturn the people’s will that has been expressed clearly in two different referendums,” Ms. Velázquez said in an interview outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall this morning. “I reject the notion that, because of the fiscal crisis, we should use this as an opportunity to overturn the people’s will.”
She continued: “New York City is one of the most resilient cities in the nation. It was shown after 9/11, when Giuliani wanted to use the attack as an argument to turn back the people’s will. This would be wrong. It’s morally wrong. And I will pose the question: Is it legal?”
More specifically, Ms. Velázquez said that any changes enacted by the City Council after the two referendums would have to be approved by the United States Department of Justice’s civil rights division, since three of New York’s boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx — are protected under the federal Voting Rights Act.
“I would certainly call into question the validly of any changes that may occur by the City Council without the approval of the Department of Justice,” Ms. Velázquez said. “A change like that would certainly lead me to call into question the potential of the disenfranchisement of minority voters in New York City. And we will be looking into that.”
Ms. Velázquez is a Democrat who represents the sprawling 12th Congressional District that covers parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The district she represents is one where minority residents make up a majority. In fact, her district is nearly 45 percent Hispanic, about 17 percent Asian and just under 10 percent black, with about 27 percent white.
Ms. Velázquez said she is personally opposed to term limits, saying that she believes voters should be able to decide when they no longer want a public official to serve. But she said that the fact that on two separate occasions New Yorkers approved a two-term limit on city officials should have made the views of any one politician irrelevant.
“This has nothing to do with how effective Mayor Bloomberg has been,” she said. “He has been a good mayor. But this is not about one person. This is about what is right.”