FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Juanita Lewis, 914-519-8588, firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUNITY VOICES HEARD’S RESPONSE TO YONKERS TERM LIMIT EXTENSION
November 23, 2022 (YONKERS, NY) – Community Voices Heard is deeply dismayed that Yonkers City Council voted yesterday to extend their own term limits without engaging the voters of Yonkers. Just 12 days after the amendment to the city charter was introduced, the City Council voted to allow 16-year term limits – a second extension after a similar 2018 extension to 12-year term limits, also made behind closed doors.
The extension of term limits without the vote or the voice of the people is the ultimate act of voter suppression and erosion of our democracy. As the third largest city in New York State, Yonkers is setting a dangerous precedent. Community Voices Heard members and coalition partners that included the NAACP, Yonkers Sanctuary Movement, Indivisible CD16, Lower Hudson Valley DSA, Working Families Party, and Westchester Black Women's Political Caucus, mobilized to attend the public hearing on Monday and Council meeting on Tuesday, where they demanded that this proposal be brought to the people of Yonkers as a referendum. But our voices were ignored.
At the Council meeting yesterday, we were shocked by the behavior of some of the Council Members toward their constituents. When community members voice their concerns to their elected leaders, they should not be met with belittling comments and disrespect. We deserve more from our elected officials.
“It is apparent yet again that the people on this council do not listen to, care about, or even consider the very people who have elected them. Yesterday was a mockery of what a public process should look like and the disrespect that speakers endured will always be remembered. All who helped this pass should feel shame,” said Community Voices Heard member Doris Miranda-Pemberton.
“A very troubling pattern in recent years has made its way to Yonkers. I’m saddened by the blatant disregard for democracy shown by the Yonkers City Council. Making a decision that directly impacts the residents of Yonkers without our input is unjust. In a representative democracy, the people choose you because we believe you have OUR best interest. How do you plan to regain the public trust now that we are aware of your refusal to abide by the rules?” said Community Voices Heard member Miriam LaCroix.
“As a voter, I feel as though my right to vote has been violated and the City Council is above the law and due process. Ethics tells us that if you are to benefit financially from the vote, then you must exclude yourself from the vote – it’s a conflict of interest. What happens next behind closed doors?” said Community Voices Heard member Walter Lipscomb.
We would like to express our deep gratitude for the Council Members who did stand up for Yonkers residents and their right to a vote – Council Members Corazon Pineda Isaac, Shanae Williams, and Anthony Merante. We thank them for their commitment to democracy.
We know we won’t always agree on every issue, but we expect our elected officials to bring these issues to a vote when they directly affect the community of Yonkers. Our voices must be heard.