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Dunleavy offers change to proposed term-limit law

John Dunleavy of Riverhead

After recently expressing opposition to term limits for elected officials, Councilman John Dunleavy has proposed an amendment that would grant him one more term in office if he gets re-elected next year.

The Town Board recently discussed not only 12-year term limits, but also changing the supervisor’s term from two years to four. Town Supervisor Sean Walter had said the four-year term would bring greater continuity to the office.

The intent of the supervisor’s term-limit proposal, as stated in the legislation, was “to increase the accountability of and expand participation in the governance of the Town of Riverhead.”

The proposal put a limit of 12-consecutive years for both the supervisor, which is a two-year term, and council members, who have four-year terms.

But Mr. Dunleavy, who was elected in 2005 and took office in 2006, was most recently re-elected to a four-year term in 2013 and would not be able to seek re-election in 2017 under the supervisor’s proposal, which he has expressed opposition to.

“We had one supervisor for 18 years because he did his job,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “We had another for two years because he didn’t do his job. We’re not a state agency. We’re not a federal government agency. We have contact with our townspeople every single day.”

At last Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, Mr. Dunleavy proposed an alternate bill, which would “not prohibit any elected official who has served twelve-consecutive years as of December 31, 2017 from seeking one additional term of office, by re-election only in November of 2017, and serving that additional term of office.”

The proposal, which would only apply to Mr. Dunleavy, was approved for a pubic hearing. Councilman Jim Wooten opposed the resolution and Mr. Dunleavy abstained.

“I wasn’t sure if I’m allowed to vote on this,” he said.

Mr. Dunleavy also abstained on setting the hearing for the supervisor’s proposed term limits.

Both public hearings are scheduled for April 5 at 2 p.m.