Candidates Forced To Reassess Because of Term Limits Talk

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The New York Sun

Some candidates running for City Council in 2009 are saying that a push to extend term limits has left them in uncomfortable limbo, as they wait to learn if they face an entrenched incumbent instead of competing for an open seat.

Earlier this month, Council Member Oliver Koppell directed staff to draft legislation that would extend to three from two the number of terms lawmakers would be allowed to serve, under which he and 34 other city legislators currently barred from running for re-election could seek a third term.

A council candidate running to succeed Mr. Koppell in representing the Bronx, Helen Morik, said the renewed discussion of legislation to extend term limits has forced her to rethink her campaign. She said she has yet to decide whether she would continue to run if Mr. Koppell succeeded in overturning term limits and then sought re-election.

“Obviously, it’s a difficult position,” Ms. Morik said yesterday. “Oliver’s been the City Council person, and I’ve supported him in the past, so it changes the whole dynamic.”

A more immediate concern for Ms. Morik is that the uncertainty over term limits is hampering fund-raising.

“It’s made it difficult for us to raise money — people are asking, ‘Are you really going to have a race?'” Ms. Morik said yesterday, “I wish they would make a decision as quickly as possible.”

Some candidates say they would likely abandon their campaigns rather than face incumbents. Many of the candidates have close ties with the outgoing council members in their districts.

“I’ve done a lot of work with the incumbent, and he is someone who I respect and admire,” a candidate to succeed Council Member Bill de Blasio in Brooklyn, Brad Lander, said yesterday in an interview. “I think it’s unlikely I would run if the seat is not open.”

A candidate running to succeed Council Member Simcha Felder in Brooklyn, Joseph Lazar, said yesterday that he would run no matter what, potentially making Mr. Felder’s re-election more difficult were term limits to be extended.

“I have every reason to continue running, no matter what happens,” Mr. Lazar said in an interview.

A candidate running for an open seat currently held by Council Member James Gennaro in Queens, Michael Simanowitz, said yesterday that he has yet to decide if he would remain in the race if Mr. Gennaro runs again. According to Mr. Simanowitz, incumbents who vote to extend term limits could find their seat harder to hold onto given the popularity of term limits with voters.

“Any sitting council member who votes to change term limit laws is going to be a target — I have no doubt.” Mr. Simanowitz said.

The New York Sun

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