Along with the names of candidates for various government positions, Tuesday night’s ballot also had three proposals for New York voters to consider.
Proposition 1, which met with a resounding No vote in Westchester County, with 81 percent of the votes (158,675) reflecting a similar percentage across New York State, asked voters if they wanted a convention to revise and amend the state’s constitution. Most New Yorkers said, No, according to the NYS Board of Elections unofficial tally.
Debate up to Election Day about a Constitutional Convention was heated and divided into two camps, one saying a convention would rid Albany of its corruption and dysfunction and the other saying too many hard-fought gains could be lost in a single convention. These might include dismantling the pension system, sabotaging environmental protections to ensure clean drinking water and many others.
Previous conventions were held in 1894 and 1938. The next chance for a Constitutional Convention in New York State will not come again for 20 years.
Proposition 2 on the ballot, however, was met with a different response.
The second proposal sought the public’s approval to amend the state constitution to “allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties.”
In Westchester County the Yes votes (140,965) secured a 73 percent advantage over the No votes (52,861) with 27 percent of the vote. Across New York State voters (approx. 64 percent Yes to 27 percent No) agreed. Proposition 2 was passed.
According to Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-White Plains) the overwhelming positive response indicates that New Yorks want ethics reform. “No longer will pension dollars automatically go to felons sitting in jail who have violated their oaths of office. For crimes committed after the enactment of the constitutional amendment, not only would taxpayer money be saved, but also the message would go out that the Empire State no longer tolerates – and bankrolls – corruption,” Buchwald said in a recent Op Ed published by Examiner News.
Proposition 3 also passed, though the Yes and No votes were closer.
Proposal 3 secured an amendment to create a 250-acre land bank, which would allow governments to request Forest Preserve land for qualifying projects in exchange for the state adding 250 new acres to the preserve; and allow bike paths, sewer lines and utility lines within the width of highways on preserve land.
In Westchester the Yes votes took 60 percent of the votes (112,943) to 40 percent (76,604) No votes. Across NY state, the Yes to No votes were closer to 50/50.