County Executive Ed Day asked the County Legislature on July 01, 2014 to take up two particular items for inclusion in the Rockland County Charter to be approved by the voters in November. These were:
1) that there should be term limits for all elected officials and
2) that no elected official should hold a second job on the taxpayer’s dime, known as the two-hat rule.
Both of these items have been implemented in the County of Westchester but neither will apparently be put to the voters in November for their approval. Instead the voters will be asked to approve some ‘housekeeping changes’ in the County Charter.
The candidate for Ed Day’s former seat in the Legislature, Lon Hofstein will be running against Barry Kantrowitz who was appointed by the Democratic majority in the legislature to fill Day’s seat until the election in November 2014. Hofstein addressed the legislators in a very dignified and well-reasoned speech asking the legislators to allow voters to consider if they wished to have term limits or not in the November referendum.
Here are Hofstein’s remarks ….
Chairman Wolfe and Members of the County Legislature, my name is Lon Hofstein and I am from New City.
This County’s financial condition is at a crucial level and our County Executive is continuously looking to make changes to put the county on track to prosperity.
Many people are asking the same question over and over again….How did we get in this predicament? Where were the people we elected to serve us and what were they thinking? That is followed by “maybe we let them stay in office too long“?
Term limits date back to the American Revolution. America’s first president, George Washington, started the tradition of informal presidential term limits by refusing to run for a third term. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only American President to break that tradition and upon his passing Congress enacted the two-term limit for all subsequent presidents.
News headlines continuously lead with news of government officials involved in behavior that can be considered questionable and at times criminal. There are some who were elected to serve the people yet in fact they seek office to serve themselves and to feed their hubris personality.
People use the term corrupt to describe the manner in which governments operate and refer to politicians as self-centered and/or politics as usual.
These are the words of the people crying out for change.
I believe term limits will reduce the perception of ‘politics as usual’.
Our economy is struggling, the voters are looking to their elected officials for solutions. It is the responsibility of those elected officials to continuously find creative and innovative answers to the issues that arise.
The people cannot rely on complacent politicians. Holding a position for an extended period of time may lead to a person becoming stagnant.
To meet the challenges that arise in today’s government we need elected officials that look at situations with a fresh and creative approach.
Term limit is not an evil phrase, rather it should be viewed as an opportunity for talented elected officials to seek positions in other branches of government. This could be an opportunity to bring their expertise and experience to a new role in serving the people. Public service is just that. Should one decide to seek public office the intention should be to serve the constituents and not to be entrenched in self serving goals.
Term Limits will encourage effective and efficient government. Westchester County Legislators passed a bill over three years ago placing term limits on those serving as County Legislators and the County Executive position. If Term Limits are good enough for the office of the President of the United States of America why would it not be fitting for people seeking office in Rockland County to have term limits?
Furthermore, as a performance improvement process I believe officials should dedicate their efforts to the position they were elected to serve and not have employment in any other branch of government during their term of office. I am suggesting that legislation be presented and passed forbidding any elected County Official from seeking or accepting another government position while serving the people in the office they were elected. As a candidate for the office of County Legislator I tell you today that should the citizens of District 5 elect me to serve as their legislator I will step down from my appointed position on the Clarkstown Recreation and Parks Commission, a responsibility I have taken very seriously and have actively worked to improve.
Since this matter is not on the agenda for this session I ask for the legislators to move and second a motion to add to the agenda for tonight a discussion on ‘Term Limits’ and the ‘Two-Hat Rule’.
I thank you all for the opportunity to come before you and give you my recommendations.
The legislature failed to move on any of Hofstein’s recommendations.