Black Westchester received several calls, text messages, and emails about Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano running for re-election and supporting the extension of term limits for Yonkers elected officials. Why is this a hot topic in Yonkers right now, because we asked Mayor Spano about the rumors on Episode 184 of the People Before Politics Radio on Sunday, September 16th.
The issue here as explained to me, is Yonkers voters have twice supported term limits. In 1994, residents voted to limit the mayor and council to two four-year terms. Then in 2001, voters overwhelmingly rejected an effort to repeal term limits. While the council claim they are not looking to create a new policy or reject an existing policy, but only to extend term limits, to three four-year terms, the residents have been very vocal online about being left out of the process this go around. Feeling their elected officials should be able to make their case to the public for a third term — and not only for themselves, but for future mayors and council members, but they should let the voters decide.
When I first got the calls, I told all that is not what Mayor Spano said when we had him on the show and shared a video with a few to show what in fact he did say, which has been widely shared on Facebook over the last 24 hours.
“I don’t know how many times I can say no about this, everytime somebody says it to me I say no,” Mayor Spano told us on PBP Radio (see video below). “People ask me over and over again if I am going to overturn term limits, I make no bones about it, I’ve never once supported term limits, but that doesn’t matter in this case, I’m not running for a third term…”
The calls and emails we received were to inform us that despite what Mayor Spano said on our radio show on September 16th, that he does intend to run for re-election and supports the extension of term limits. Several community leaders groups including the Yonkers NAACP and the Yonkers Chapter of the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus are encouraging residents to come to a public hearing scheduled for MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2018 AT 7:00 PM to be held at YONKERS CITY HALL in the CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS on the 4th Floor to discuss the resolution (see below) to extend term limits by revising the city charter.
The Yonkers NAACP was clear to point out their flyer and emails were not meant to be for or against, but simply to inform residents of the meeting, as you can see by the flyer, below.“Term Limits are not about any one person,” Barry McGoey (@BarryMcGo) – President of the Yonkers Fire IAFF Local 628 tells Black Westchester. “Term Limits were voted on by the people in referendums in 1994 and again in 2001. If Term Limits are to be extended or amended in any way it should be put to the people for a vote in a referendum and not done without their express approval or disapproval.”
Yonkers residents have expressed their feelings on Facebook and I was even called to appear at the meeting to call Mayor Spano a liar to his face at the meeting. My presence at the meeting is not possible since I a currently in Atlanta for a few more days, but seeing the attention this matter was getting and the many requests we received I felt I need to write something and present all the facts and as always allow the readers to make up their own mind and prayerfully be more informed on the facts, not just the rumors and innuendos.
“Should term limits for the Yonkers City Council be expanded from two four-year terms to three terms? Maybe, maybe not. Some believe that eight years is not enough,” Gary Stern asked in his Lohud Op-Ed on October 26th. “But should term limits be expanded without a public referendum? That’s a very different question. Council leaders know it. They want to extend term limits. But they don’t want a public vote because they would probably lose. They also seem to think that the timing of a referendum could preclude them from seeking third terms.
Former Yonkers NAACP President Karen Edmonson was one of the community leaders who were officially willing to go on the record.
“If folks can’t get it done in 8 years, they are incompetent. Longer terms breed corruption and complacency,” Karen Edmonson shared with Black Westchester.” I am told that this is a “done deal” because jobs have been promised already to most if not all on the council, including Deputy Mayor’s job to [City Councilman] John Rubbo and jobs for [Democratic Majority Leader Michael] Sabatino and [Republican Minority Leader Michael] Breen. Then some are just loyal to Mike and are only looking out for themselves. These are significant hurdles to overcome, but we should go on record and encourage others to speak out. I am willing to even bet that anyone who is employed by the City or who has contracts with the city will NOT speak out. Everyone’s silence, morals, and honesty have been bought by the Spanos. See you there!”
The Lohud Op-Ed went on to say, that this is not only on Sabatino and Breen but was a well-orchestrated campaign. As Sabatino wrote in an email Wednesday to The Journal News/lohud: “All council members and the mayor were involved in conversations last week before the final decision was made to move forward and introduce legislation.”
Sabatino and Breen introduced legislation Friday, October 19th, just before 5 p.m., the witching hour when politicians do things to minimize media attention and public debate before the weekend, Stern wrote in Lohud. The move came two days after both legislators, in video interviews with YonkersVoice.com, played dumb about plans to extend term limits. “Unless you know something I don’t know,” Sabatino said to his interviewer.
So the next thing I did was reach out to Mayor Spano, because all I had to go on was what he said (video above) on our radio show when I asked the question directly and all the many emails, phone calls, and Facebook posts. I was able to get confirmation from a city hall insider, that Mayor Spano is, in fact, running for re-election due to several requests from community leaders after his appearance on our show.
I wasn’t able to get a quote from Mayor Spano on Monday nights meeting, running for re-election and the extension of term limits but I did see a statement in my email that he released n response to legislation submitted Friday, October 19th, by members of the Yonkers City Council to modify the city’s current term limit law
“The legislation submitted today by our City Council leaders is a bipartisan acknowledgment that our term limit laws should be modified and consistent with Westchester County’s law,” Mayor Spano said in the statement. “The decision as to who is the next mayor will remain in the hands of the Yonkers voters, as it should. As for me, I love being the mayor of this great city and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the progress we’ve made to make Yonkers the place to live, work and play.”
I also came across a statement issued by City Council President Mike Khader released three days later, Monday, October 22nd, stating that the legislation was introduced when he was out of town, implying that he was caught off guard. But Sabatino wrote that Khader was asked if he wanted to co-sponsor the legislation and declined.
Khader’s statement said he’ll vote against extending term limits, as any change has to come “directly from the people.” Of course, it’s an easy position for him to take since he was just elected in November.
There was also several Facebook post in support for Mayor Spano and the extension of term limits as well. People Before Politics Radio Show co-host Lorraine Lopez (seen in video interview above) wrote on her Latino Empowerment page: “For the record, I am part of Black Westchester and I wholeheartedly support Mayor Mike Spano for a third term.”
As you can see they are many views of the topic at hand and I’m told by some Yonkers insiders it’s all but a done deal, it appear they currently have enough support to pass the law. While I can confirm that with any certainty, I do know one thing, this will be a crowded and heated meeting where residents will be sounding off. Despite the outcome of the vote, Monday night the city of Yonkers will still be divided on the matter and this will not be the last we will hear about it and that’s Real Talk!