Are board members headed for term limits?

04/09/2014 7:00 PM |
Riverhead Town Board members at Thursday's meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members at a recent meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members appear headed for a public hearing on the latest version of term-limit legislation that would apply only to Town Board members — supervisor and council — and restrict them to 12 consecutive years of service.

A previous version of the proposal, which did not have support at the last Town Board meeting, set the limit at 12 cumulative years.

Councilman John Dunleavy, who has already been elected to serve 12 years, and is currently in his ninth year, opposes all term limits.

“My problem is, we are taking this away from the people of the town,” Mr. Dunleavy said at last Thursday’s work session, where the issue was discussed.

At the work session, Supervisor Sean Walter, Councilman Jim Wooten and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio agreed to schedule a public hearing on the new proposal. Councilman George Gabrielsen was absent.

Mr. Walter had previously sought term limits for all elected officials, but didn’t have board support.

The board also appeared to agree on setting a public hearing for a proposal to prohibit members of the Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Review and Ethics Board from serving on the executive committee of a town, county or state political party.

Mr. Walter was voted down on extending that prohibition to include the highway superintendent, town clerk, assessor and tax receiver offices.

Mason Haas, who is both an elected town assessor and Riverhead Republican chairman, would have had to give up one of those posts if the prohibition had been expanded. Mr. Haas screened to run against Mr. Walter for supervisor last fall and did not have Mr. Walter’s support then for his current party position.

tgannon@timesreview.com