Term limit ‘traffic’ delays - Candidates put campaigns on hold while term limit suits proceed

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With the City Council recently extending term limits to a third four-year term, and less than a year before the September primaries, several upcoming races remain in the air.

But who is running for what will probably not be decided before the term limit brouhaha is resolved in the courts, according to one Kings County Democratic inside source.

“A number of City Council people running for higher office will wait for the court’s decision until they make a final decision, because this way they will know exactly where they stand legally,” said the source.

The source said that among the elected officials waiting for a court ruling are Comptroller William Thompson, and Councilmembers Bill de Blasio and David Yassky.

Under the city legislation, all three will be able to run for a third term. Currently, Thompson maintains he remains in the race for mayor, de Blasio for borough president, and Yassky for comptroller.

De Blasio and City Councilmember Letitia James have authorized their lawyers to prepare a lawsuit to challenge the legality of changing voter-ratified term limits by legislation.

Among the authorities that could weigh in on the issue include the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, as Kings County is one of the areas in the country monitored for fair representation under the federal Voters’ Rights Act.

“Not only did our government completely disregard the will of the people, but its actions were illegal,” said James. “The New Yorkers who elected us to represent them deserve better, and I will fight for them.”

Meanwhile, in Coney Island, former State Senator Seymour Lachman said he is seriously considering a run against incumbent City Council member Domenic Recchia in his bid for a third term.

“The term limit legislation would be a major issue on how the democratic process has been distorted and twisted so that things can occur with a process that is not democratic,” said Lachman, noting that polls suggest that 89 percent of the city electorate was against the City Council legislating in an extension of term limits.

Lachman said he has solid support in the district and is capable of raising enough money to mount a serious challenge against Recchia.

Recchia, a major supporter of legislating in a third term, said he welcomes the challenge.

“I have a great record to run on. I’ve done a lot in the district. I stand by my record for all the wonderful things I’ve accomplished in the district,” said Recchia.

“This is what it’s all about – an open democratic process. Let him get all his support and I wish him the best of luck. Whenever he’s ready to debate me, I’m ready to debate him,” Recchia added.

If de Blasio and Yassky decide to run for re-election, both would be considered favorites to win a third term.

However, Yassky could face two challengers who have both money and support – the 52nd female Democratic assembly District leader Jo Anne Simon, and Steve Levin, a chief aide to Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez.

“Who’s doing what and when is a little confusing. I look at it as what I can bring to the district, which I think is a very clear message of commitment to the community and being a voice of the community,” said Simon of running against Yassky.

“I think almost anyone you talk to sees a sense of indecisiveness on David’s part. The voters expect me to think before I make a decision, but people are frustrated with the indecisiveness on his [Yassky’s] part,” she added.

Levin, who has raised over $30,000 to succeed Yassky, said he is also considering a run against him.

“I haven’t seen any reason to pull out of this race,” said Levin.

“I don’t have an opinion one way or another on how he [Yassky] handled the issue of term limits or begrudge the way he goes about doing things, but as of now it’s a very large district and I see there’s an opportunity for new representa­tion,” he added.

Lopez said he would back Levin against Yassky, and sees several Council districts where incumbents seeking a third term may face challenges in the Democratic primaries.

“It [term limit extension] will have a domino affect. Many people running for one position may back up into another position,” said Lopez.

Lopez said those incumbents seeking a higher office will remain in their own seat and wait for another day to run for higher office.

“I believe there will be several other individuals who went out and fundraised and developed enough money to become competitive and will decide to run instead of backing off,” said Lopez.

Lopez said he could see primary races to unseat Councilmembers Al Vann, Kendall Stewart, Lew Fidler and Recchia.

Lopez said he will probably back the incumbents in all the races with the exception of backing Levin if he decides to run against Yassky.

— with Aaron Short

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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