After proposing legislation limiting his own time in office, Westchester County Executive George Latimer made a case for Executive Term Limits directly to the Board of Legislators last week.
The legislation submitted by Latimer would reduce the existing three term limit (12 years) for County Executives enacted in 2011 in Westchester, down to two terms (eight years).
“All of our local governments follow that Revolutionary Era philosophy; restricting the reach of government. I have been a student of government as well as a practitioner these many years, serving on three different levels: city, county and state,” Latimer said. “Now, as I complete my second year as County Executive, I see the authority granted this position – and I strongly believe it should be further limited to ensure a balance of interests are better served.”
Latimer, who appeared before the board on June 15, is currently mid-way through the third year of his first four-year term as County Executive.
From a committee report attached to local law amending Chapter 110 of the Laws of Westchester County to impose a limitation on service by a Westchester County Executive, the report outlines: “term limits prevent government officials from serving for more than a specified number of terms to bring fresh perspectives to government and ensure responsiveness to voter demands. […] Longtime office holders can often become more interested in serving their own reelection interests than serving the interests of the people they represent and challengers with new ideas are at an unfair advantage when running against incumbents with higher name recognition…Term limits encourage younger, minority and other aspirants to run for office as the hurdle to defeat a well-entrenched and senior incumbent is lowered. In addition, term limits result in greater voter turnout particularly in local elections if people feel there is a real race going on and their votes can count.”
While Latimer proposes to limit the term County Executive, he proposes no change in legislative term limits, which currently allow a maximum of service of 12 years (six terms). The new term limit, if passed, would reduce Latimer’s available to run for future terms from three terms to two.
“I have included my tenure as covered within the law. Oftentimes, incumbents are “grandfathered” in, meaning the restrictions apply to the next occupant of the seat. But, they will apply to me as well,” Latimer said. “Eight years is a period of time most common where Executive term limits apply, and I think it is a defensible change. The length of my tenure is up to the voters, but to limit the total years to eight makes good sense and ensures the proper check and balance.”