Yonkers extends term limits amid fights, chaos

Police and security had to remove several people from the legislative chambers Tuesday night as tempers flared.

Jonathan Gordon

Nov 22, 2022, 11:18 AM

Updated 549 days ago


A vote to shape the future political landscape of New York's third-largest city was overshadowed by an evening of verbal altercations between Yonkers community members, physical scuffles and disputes between council members and constituents.
Police and security had to remove several people from the legislative chambers Tuesday night as tempers flared.
Ultimately, the order was restored as the City Council voted 4-3 in favor of amending the city charter to extend term limits for City Council members and the mayor from three to four terms.
"I wholeheartedly support a referendum for next year and I wholeheartedly support another term for Mayor Mike Spano," said Yonkers Council President Lakisha Collins-Bellamy before she cast her 'yes' vote.


YES - Collins-Bellamy, Breen, Rubbo, Diaz
NO - Merante, Pineda-Isaac, Williams
This is the second time in the last four years the City Council has taken this action without putting the decision before the voters as a referendum question.
It immediately allows Mayor Mike Spano as well as council members Mike Breen and Corazon Pineda-Isaac to run for re-election once their third term expires, while the rest of the current board could benefit down the line. 
Spano, whose third term is up next year, previously said he would likely run again if allowed to do so and released the following statement right after the vote wrapped up.
"The Yonkers City Council’s decision gives voters more choices. Now that running for a fourth term is an option for Yonkers elected officials, it certainly gives me something to think about for myself. I love being mayor, but ultimately it will be up to the voters on Election Day as to who will lead our city for the next four years," wrote Spano.
Before Tuesday night's vote, he told News 12 the issue wasn't about overstepping the will of the voters but rather not restricting them from voting for certain candidates that would otherwise be term-limited.
"Do you limit people's choices in that election by taking someone out of it?" asked Spano.
The process was swift and lasted a week from start to finish.
Last Tuesday, the council moved the charter amendment out of committee and before the full board.
Six days later, on Monday, it held a public hearing which lasted several hours before voting tonight.
Those meetings were split among supporters and opponents of amending the city charter.
Those in favor of it chanted "four more years" and said they liked the direction Spano and the council have taken the city. Particularly mentioning how they would like to see them secure a full gaming license for Empire City Casino, continue downtown development, and keep the city's crime rates low for a municipality this size.
But opponents had been equally as outspoken and claimed the council was overstepping its authority by not allowing the public to vote on the decision.
They also criticized how quickly the council had moved and the timing of presenting the amendment right after an election and during a holiday week.
Term limits have been a deeply contested issue in the state's third-largest city for nearly 30 years.
Voters implemented a cap of two four-year terms for the mayor and council back in 1994 and rejected a proposition seven years later that would've overturned term limits outright.
Four years ago, the City Council voted to amend the city charter to extend term limits from two to three which at that time allowed Spano to run again.
He went on to secure 75% of the vote that November.
The law takes effect immediately and applies to all elections held after the date of its enactment.
Councilman Anthony Merante who voted 'no' said he will push to include a referendum vote on next year's ballot that would roll back term limits from four to three.


Mike Spano (D), Mayor     
Elected in 2011, 2015, and 2019      
Current Term: Third*

Lakisha Collins Bellamy (D), President      
Elected in 2021      
Current Term: First

Tasha Diaz (D), Majority Leader      
Elected in 2019      
Current Term: First

Mike Breen (R), Minority Leader      
Elected in 2011, 2015, and 2019      
Current Term: Third*

Shanae Williams (D)      
Elected in 2018 (appointed), 2019 (elected)      
Current Term: First

Corazon Pineda Isaac (D)      
Elected in 2013, 2017, and 2021      
Current Term: Third*

John Rubbo (D), Majority Whip      
Elected in 2017, 2021      
Current Term: Second
Anthony Merante (R)      
Elected in 2017, 2021      
Current Term: Second

(*Cannot run for re-election unless term limits are extended)

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