New York's City Council has voted in favor of extending term limits for elected officials, paving the way for the city's billionaire mayor to run for another term. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York Bureau that the move on Thursday had many vocal opponents who said any change to the existing term limits law should only come through a public referendum.
The measure to extend term limits law narrowly passed by a vote of 29 to 22, following two hours of lively, and at time contentious, debate in the City Council.
The legislation will allow elected officials to stay in office for three consecutive four-year terms. Lawmakers are currently limited to two four-year terms.
The move came at the request of New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg,who just three weeks ago announced that he wanted to be able to run for a third term in office. Mr. Bloomberg's second term expires at the end of 2009.
Bloomberg, a former Wall Street tycoon and self-made billionaire, said he wants to remain the city's mayor because he believes his business savvy will help steer the city through tough financial times brought about by the crisis on Wall Street.
"As our economic situation has become increasingly unstable, the question to me has become far less about the theoretical and much more about the practical. So, to put it in very practical terms, handling this financial crisis while strengthening essential services such as education and publics safety is a challenge I want to take on for the people of New York," he said.
Bloomberg, a powerful and popular mayor, had many vocal opponents as he pushed to extend term-limits.
Referendums in the 1990s had twice confirmed the two-term limit and many New Yorkers said that only voters should be able to change the rule - not the City Council.
Council members held a heated debate before casting their vote.
Representative Charles Barron said only voters should be able to extend the term limits law. "If you do this, you are undermining the very people who vote you in to represent them, because their voices were already heard. Let the people decide.
About two-thirds of the council would have been forced out of office under the two-term limit, but they can now stand for a third term at the November 2009 election.