Referencing the wisdom of the American Constitution, specifically the need for checks and balances on power and to create a steady, fresh supply of leaders to serve in elected offices Westchester County Executive George Latimer has re-submitted legislation to the County Board of Legislators to reduce the existing three term limit (12 years) for County Executives enacted in 2011 in Westchester, down to two terms (eight years). The resubmission is due to the new term for the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Latimer said: “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. Now, as I begin my third 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.”

From the 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. Your Committee believes that restricting the service of lawmakers through term limits prevents politicians from amassing too much power and removes the intense focus on politics and places it back on policy. 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.  Your Committee believes that implementation of term limits keeps a steady, fresh supply of leaders to serve in elected offices.  Many talented potential leaders will simply not run for a particular office because of the challenges and battles of running against an incumbent.” 

While Latimer wants to limit the term of the 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 eligibility to run for future terms from three terms to two. 

Latimer said: “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. Eight years is a period of time most common where Executive term limits apply, and I think it is a defensible change.”

Latimer continued: “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.”