In 1992, voters in Utica passed a referendum by an overwhelming majority. This referendum placed term limits upon Utica’s elected officials, limiting the Mayor, Comptroller, and President of the Common Council to two 4-year terms, and Members of the Common Council to four 2-year terms. Voters passed the referendum and trusted that term-limits would now be a fact of Utica government unless and until they returned to the voting booth to vote on a new referendum.
In 2017, however, the Utica Common Council overrode the will of the voters and broke their trust. There was a contentious debate, and a great deal of outcry from the public, who clearly objected the new legislation. Nonetheless, the Council voted 5-4 to extend term limits for all public official from 8 years to 12 years.
Now, Councilmember Celeste Friend is bringing a simple piece of legislation that would restore the 1992 referendum. The new legislation, which is a Local Law, substitutes the previous 8-year limit for the current 12-year limit. The law is written as follows:
A LOCAL LAW AMENDING SUBDIVISION (d) of Section 2.023 OF THE UTICA CITY CHARTER BY REINSTATING THE 1992 REFERENDUM AND RESCINDING THE 2017 LOCAL LAW NO. 2 REGARDING THE NUMBER OF TERMS THAT ELECTED OFFICIALS MAY SERVE
Any Mayor, President of the Common Council, or Comptroller who has been elected to two or more terms shall be ineligible to be elected to the same office again.
Any Member of the Common Council who has been elected to four terms shall be ineligible to be elected to the same office again.
This legislation shall take effect on 1/1/2021
At the request of her Constituents and numerous conversations with them, Councilmember Friend decided to move forward with restoring the 1992 referendum. Friend has consistently upheld the principles of a strong democracy, based on transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. She was instrumental in making the Council providing its minutes to the public, defending the right of the public to speak at Common Council meetings, and has consistently upheld the right of Utica voters to participate in their government.