Russell Gardens presents proposed law to increase term length for elected officials

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The Village of Russell Gardens Board of Trustees discussed a proposal last Thursday to  change the length of an elected official’s term to four years from two.

“We’ve been kicking this idea around for years,” said Mayor David Miller. “We as the board are looking for continuity. There is nothing nefarious about this decision, and this is not something that will be taken into effect overnight.”

According to the village, a public hearing has been scheduled for the next board meeting to introduce the potential amendment to the village code. If it passes, there will be a petition to have the proposed law put on the ballot for the March election. The law would not take  effect until 2021.

Miller said the proposed law would not affect anyone in office currently or those who run for election in March. 

According to Miller, the board initially looked at the possibility of a three-year term to combat turnover and not have an elected official in office too long.  However, according to state law, village officials can only have terms in even-numbered years.

“There is a significant turnover of responsibilities that we are trying to mitigate for our current and future board,” Miller said. “A lot of other villages have larger community departments that handle a lot of the workload that goes unnoticed at times.  Our village doesn’t have those resources, and as a result, our volunteer board takes on a heavy workload that other villages don’t necessarily have to.”

In most Nassau County villages, three trustees are up for election every two years staggered with the other two trustee spots the next election year.  This proposed law would change Russell Gardens’ format to a two trustee election, staggered with another two, and then the final spot.

Miller also said that the annual appointment of the deputy mayor from the board would stay intact regardless of potential implementation of the proposed law.

While several community residents, who chose to remain anonymous, reported some initial skepticism and questions about the proposed law, Miller said he believes that the community and the trustees would benefit from the change.

“Our main goal is to keep some of these experienced and dedicated volunteer board members around, while newer people are able to slowly integrate into the board while holding various positions within the community,” Miller said. “Personally, I want workers on this board. There is plenty that we take on, but I’m sure there are residents who wish to help out this community and contribute to making a difference.”

The public hearing for the proposed law will occur at the Board of Trustees meeting at 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 7.

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