Members of the public were given the chance today to stand face-to-face with Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and discuss the extension of term limits for city officials.
Over 20 people spoke at today's hearing to give their final thoughts on term limits before the mayor made his decision to either sign or veto the legislation.
Nearly every person that stepped up to the podium asked Mayor Palmieri to veto the local law. It extends the positions of mayor, comptroller, council president, and council members from eight to 12 years.
"Either A, you will do the right thing and you will veto this legislation. Or B, you will prove to me, by accepting and signing off on the legislation that it's not about the people of Utica," said Pat Leone, an East Utica Resident.
One man said there's talk that the extension of term limits will give the public the option of voting for someone they believe has done a good job. But he disagrees.
"I look at it a different way. We have people that run unopposed in several elections--whether it's Congress, whether it's Senate, the state senatem the assembly. People don't want to run against incumbents, because it's difficult," said Michael Gentile, Utica Resident.
Amongst the Utica residents stood several elected officials, but they spoke as civilians.
Common Council President, Michael Galime, shared his reasoning to stop the extension.
"You'll only have another four years after that. In which case you've changed the system permenantly. In which case, if it does get into the hands of somebody who is putting us in the wrong direction, that if they have enough money and they have enough compelling arguments, they will be able to do that for 12 years instead of eight," Galime said.
Councilman Joseph Marino took a similar stance.
"In 1993, 17,000 people voted on a proposition requireing eight year term limits, almost 70 percent of them voted in favor. In 2017, five people reversed that," Marino said.
"We're all speaking to you because you are the person with the pen and I hope that you do the right thing for the system and the city in the long run and not for somethign that you want to stop in the short term," Galime said.
After the public hearing, the mayor announced he would be making his decision this afternoon. We caught up with him when the time came and that's when he told us, he passed the legislation.
"With the signatures from the residents, it went from a local law in front of the common council it was voted on. I hear from both sides. And the fact that the city of Utica is one of the only very few that have term limits at all. And all this is doing is adding to the term limits. I felt that at this time it was the thing to do, and was proper," Palmieri said.
Palmieri said the passing of this law does not mean he will be running for mayor again. He said he will decide in two years if he wishes to do so, or to run for the assembly.
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