Cayuga County Legislature Government Operations Committee

The Cayuga County Legislature's Government Operations Committee on Tuesday approved a local law to temporarily shorten some term limits for legislators in advance of the 2020 U.S. Census.

As the Cayuga County Legislature gets closer to approving a change to legislative term limits, we expect lawmakers to abide by the spirit of the law rather than look for a way to overstay their welcome.

The county has been working to align the staggered terms for legislators so that all of the Legislature's 15 seats will come up for election in 2024. The realignment will be necessary for the county to reapportion its weighted vote system based on population figures provided by the 2020 census. The change will also be needed in the event that the county decides to completely redraw district lines and perhaps even change the number of seats on the Legislature.

It's a smart move to make. It's a good example of planning for the long-term future of the county, and we urge the Legislature to vote in favor of it at its May 28 meeting.

Aligning all of the legislative terms means temporarily changing the terms for some seats to two years, but the law has been written is such a way as to conform to the spirit of the 2007 revision to the term limit law, which specifies that legislators will serve no more than three four-year terms.

The change in 2007 led to disagreements over the words "terms" and "years" and left the door open — in the opinion of some — for some incumbent legislators to continue running for office after their window of service should have expired.

The current members of the Legislature seem united in keeping the 12-year limit intact, even if this temporary change will disrupt that number slightly, so we don't expect anyone to look for a loophole. Having said that, we will expect any legislator in a position to make such a move down the road to publicly state to their constituency that they won't challenge the letter — or the spirit — of the new term-limit law.

The Citizen editorial board includes interim publisher Thomas Salvo, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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