ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York is one of only 12 states that doesn’t have a term limit for governors.
It’s a long-standing conversation that has become impassioned once again given the controversy at the state capitol, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported Thursday.
When you look at the past five years, so much of New York’s leadership has gone down in disgrace. And now, given the Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s scandal, legislators from Long Island to Rockland County and the Capital Region, are jumping into the term limit debate.
With Cuomo holed up inside the eerily quiet Executive Mansion, the magnitude of the turmoil he has created has colleagues loudly reigniting their call for term limits.
“You need turnover, you need new ideas, fresh faces. You don’t need dynasties,” Rockland County Assemblyman Mike Lawler said.
Lawler, a Republican, has pushing hard to limit elected leaders in the state to eight years, like we see in the White House.
Supporters of similar bills argue the insatiable thirst for power inevitably yields a path for corruption.
Long Island Assemblyman Ed Ra said it’s about accountability.
“Legislative leaders as well who have gotten themselves into trouble and I think the common denominator in all of this is people amassing major amounts of power,” Ra said.
Remember the so-called “three men in a room?” They’ve all been forced to step down in scandal, and upstate Albany Assemblyman John McDonald rattled off the list.
“In the last five years, the Assembly leader, gone; Senate majority leader, gone; New York State attorney general, gone; governor, gone,” McDonald said.
“I do think term limits could have the effect that voters intend them to, but so does imposing certain limitations on campaign fundraising and spending,” Democratic strategist Basil Smikle said.
Smikle, who said he goes back and forth on whether he favors term limits, said one argument against is it could prevent elected officials who don’t have time to achieve leadership positions from bringing resources back to their districts.
And the question remains: Would a term limit have made a difference in this scandal with Gov. Cuomo?
“If people knew that he only had a short time in office, they may have felt more comfortable coming out and challenged him or raised concerns about the toxicity and culture in the office,” Smikle said.
“A lot of these scandals might not have occurred because people wouldn’t have been as afraid of Andrew Cuomo. They wouldn’t have been as worried what he could do to them,” Lawler added.
Imposing term limits would take an amendment to the constitution, and you need to give politicians an incentive to vote in favor of essentially limiting their own power. Lawmakers say it will be interesting to see if incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul tries to do anything about the issue when she takes over in 12 days.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.