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NYC votes to restore 2-term limit for mayor

by Associated Press
A A
Vote sign
Dean Terry, Flickr

New York City voters backed a measure to limit mayors and other officeholders to two terms, two years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the law changed so that he could run for a third time.

The billionaire mayor angered many New Yorkers when he hastily persuaded the City Council to change term-limits law in 2008, and many said Tuesday was their chance to be heard.

"I still remember what they did, I haven't forgotten what they did, and I'm putting them back in the two-term plan," said 55-year-old independent John Evans, just after voting on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

When Bloomberg orchestrated the change to term-limits law, which had limited him to two consecutive four-year terms, he argued that his financial expertise was crucial to helping the city weather the economic storm.

The mayor promised he would later appoint a commission to put the issue to voters. That panel began its work last spring.

Democrat Curtis Brown, 65, said Bloomberg's run around voters, who twice approved a two-term limit by ballot referenda in the 1990s, was unfair.

"He had great power and he wanted to hang onto that, and the way he did it was totally wrong," Brown said, after voting to restore the two-term limit.

The ballot question asked voters whether the city's charter should be amended to give officeholders two terms. It voters had rejected it, the three-term limit would have stayed.

Observers had predicted low participation in the ballot questions, in part because they were printed on the back of the ballots. Early returns in Manhattan showed slightly fewer than half the people who voted for governor did not vote on the term limits question.

Some voters said they did not know to flip their ballots.

"I didn't turn the page over," Alberto Guzman, 67, said after voting. "There were questions there? I didn't know that."

A second question on the ballot, which had seven bullet points, also passed.

It included a proposal to reduce the number of petition signatures candidates need to get on the ballot, and a measure that requires greater public disclosure of campaign spending made by organizations and individuals independent of candidates.

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