Letter From Councilman Gene Cook
Last week Suffolk County’s District Attorney, Sheriff, and County Clerk filed a lawsuit against the County challenging the 12-year term limit the voters ratified. They say it doesn’t apply to them because their positions are defined by the New York State Constitution and Suffolk County cannot limit their terms in office.
Whether or not the lawsuit has legal merit, the bigger point is that the voters clearly wanted term limits for elected officials and that decision should not be overturned. It went to a referendum because it was an important issue, and the voters should have, and did have, what they thought was the final say. To negate the overwhelming decision of the County’s taxpaying voters would show complete disregard for the electoral system and merely demonstrate that the feeling that they had when they voted on this legislation was correct — that the longer career politicians hold a position, the more entitled they feel to keep that job, and keep anyone with new ideas out of their club.
The argument that if the voters wanted someone out of office they could simply vote them out doesn’t hold water, especially if the people in those positions can get the voters’ decision overturned, as could happen in this case. Our forefathers did not envision the kind of career politician we have now. They were people who ran their own businesses, and served their community for a specific time, then went back to their ordinary lives.
I am a staunch supporter of term limits; that is why it was one of my campaign issues. Some of our elected officials, at all levels of government, have held office for more than 20 years. Technology, jobs, lifestyles, and the economy have changed dramatically during that time, yet we still have the same people running our towns, counties, state, and federal offices that were there in the 1990s. This is not progress. If an eight year term limit is acceptable for the President of the United States, how is it not acceptable for our local officials?
I believe that the terms of elected officials should be limited, and I hope to make that a reality in Huntington during my term as Town Councilman. I would like to hear what the voters have to say regarding this issue, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have personal knowledge of how hard it is for someone new to get elected, no matter how competent or talented they may be, and I think anyone who wants to serve should have a chance to attain that goal. Mandating term limits will at least give the political parties a reason to look at these people and help them with the process.
Huntington Town Councilman