Dec. 26, 2014 By Council Member Daniel Dromm
Term limits are important to ensure democracy. That’s why I am proposing to limit community board members to serving six, two-year terms for a total of 12 years.
I recently introduced legislation, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos from Manhattan, that would set term limits for community board members at six two-year terms or 12 years in total.
Members currently serving on boards would not be affected by this legislation. Only new members elected after April 1, 2016 would be limited. In any government or decision making body it is important to be challenged and checked by new points of view.
I have great respect for our neighbors that have volunteered on community boards for decades but I believe that communities change and so should community boards. A larger turnover of members will ensure that new ideas, cultures and backgrounds will be represented.
In the City Council, members are limited to two four-year terms. Why shouldn’t community board members also face term limits? For all the same reasons I believe in term limits for elected officials, I believe in term limits for community board members.
Community boards have important jobs to do. They approve liquor licenses. They review land use proposals. They respond to constituent quality of life issues. They do many other things that I find very helpful to my office. But, in the end, I believe limiting the power of a few helps the majority.
When term limits was first instituted in the City Council people predicted the city would fall apart especially because we had just suffered the tragedy of 9/11. But that didn’t happen and the new City Council got us through the crisis.
Twelve years of service as community board member doesn’t mean a person can’t continue to serve the community. In fact, they could and should continue to serve on board committees. I would urge any member of the community to volunteer in this capacity. There are also many civic, educational and community based groups that could use the expertise that community board members have cultivated during their time of service.
Before being elected as a City Council Member I was very involved in the Jackson Heights community. It’s helped to get me elected to public office. I urge residents to support this effort to bring added transparency and democracy to our community boards by supporting my community board legislation in the City Council.