The Newburgh City Council is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, October 13, to discuss the possibility of term limits for councilmembers, which they’ve never had before.
Back in March, Councilwoman Karen Meija introduced the idea of term limits for council members. However, due to the pandemic, it was pushed back and reintroduced at the September 24 work session meeting.
“We may or may not move forward with creating term limits,” said Meija. “But, at the very least, at a time where democracy is getting shaken up everywhere else, having a public hearing is the right thing to do for this.”
With no term limits before, earlier members have sat on the board for up to 12 years.
“That’s a long time, and just enough time, for anyone to get their agenda pushed forward,” said Councilman Anthony Grice. “If they can’t do that in 12 years, we need to give other people the opportunity to be a part of this process.”
A couple of years ago, there was a proposal of term limits that didn’t get advanced. However, this time around, council members are able to consider a variety of options for term limits. During the work session, mostly two and three terms were considered.
One term is four years.
New term limits would begin on January 1, 2022. No sitting councilperson now would have their current tenure count and everyone would start from zero.
“Three terms is way too long,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde. “I’d consider two terms. If you haven’t done what you set out to do in two terms, it’s time to move along and let someone else come in and do the work or pick up from where you left off. I support this.”
There were two council members and one mayor who served for at least three consecutive terms in recent years, according to discussion at the work session meeting.
“I’m happy with the hard work the Councilmember Meija put into this,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “When you look at trying to turn around, revitalize a city and start developing, it could very well take three terms. I agree with Monteverde that two would be good enough, but I could go with a three-term limit.”
The loose proposal states that after three consecutive year terms, they need one full term to pass before running for election again, unless going from councilmember to mayor.
After the public hearing, the proposal will either be amended, approved or denied.
The same night, there will be a public hearing on the proposed budget.