Will voters be heard on board term limits?
by Emily Gallagher
Feb 06, 2020 | 1017 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In 2018, New York City passed a ballot initiative with 78 percent of voters in favor. It was a proposition that said community board members would be limited to eight years of service, or four consecutive, two-year terms, beginning in 2019.

Now it's time for the borough president to choose who will be the new appointees. I wait with bated breath to see if we will start following these term limits. While we 78 percent of voters were in favor of this law, most community boards across the city were very unhappy with the proposal.

A recent study revealed that community boards were not very representative of the areas they served. On the whole, Latinx and Asian communities were underrepresented, as well as young people and women.

The median age in Brooklyn is, according to census data, around 35 years old, but the Brooklyn community boards skewed much older than that.

According to the ballot proposal that passed in 2018, anyone who has served over 10 years should not be reappointed to the board this April. By my estimation, that will open up many, many seats.

Previously, when there were unlimited term limits, seats often opened only when a member died or opted to step down. Some of the greatest leaders I have known served their time on the board, and then stepped down before they reached more than a decade of service.

They were able to do this with enthusiasm, because all of these members had been working to educate other community members how to do what they did.

From my own experience, I learned what the ULURP process was and the negotiation tactics from members who took me under their wing when I was a newly interested community member. Then, when they stepped down, they encouraged me to apply.

Term limits encourage mentorship. They encourage community building and involvement outside of the board, as well as intergenerational connection. Our community is so full of inspired and passionate people with so many different areas of expertise and life experience that they could share.

I am looking forward to our near future, where there is a focus on bringing new folks up and into their own power. That is how we will build a strong and resilient community for the future, and make sure that there is a multitude of voices being heard.
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