Abigail Savitch-Lew

Manhattan Community Board 12 prepares to vote on the Inwood rezoning earlier this year while audience members wave signs.

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On Election Day, New York City residents will have a chance to vote on three ballot measures. City Limits welcomes op-eds from anyone with a position on one or all of them. Let us know if you want to weigh in. Click here for an opposing viewpoint on Question 3.
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When New York City voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they will have an opportunity to take a stand on term limits for community boards. On the back of their ballots, New York City voters will find three ballot proposals to vote on. Here’s why you should vote YES on Proposal 3.

Proposal 3 focuses on much needed reforms to New York City’s 59 community boards. The proposal would institute term limits for community board members, standardize the process of applying and being appointed to community boards, and mandate that borough presidents report on their outreach and recruitment efforts to fill community board seats every year.

These reforms are focused on ensuring that community boards reflect the communities they serve and are accessible and open to the many New Yorkers who wish to serve on them.

At their best, New York City’s community boards enable and empower New Yorkers to engage with city government on neighborhood-level priorities. But community boards fall short of this ideal when their long-term membership no longer reflects the communities they are intended to represent. This lack of representation has broad implications on important issues ranging from transportation and land use to health services and public safety.

Term limits have been shown to improve representation, equity, and fairness in offices nationally, and right here in New York City. Adjusting the community board model to match electoral standards common throughout the city will strengthen community boards by breathing new life, perspectives and voices into them.

Most community board members are passionate, thoughtful, intelligent, and dedicated people who seek to improve and serve their communities. More New Yorkers deserve this opportunity. By tapping into new voices and new skills, we can ensure our local representatives reflect our shared diversity, while creating a spirit of mentorship and making the changes necessary to ensure the safety and livelihood of everyone in the community.

New Yorkers deserve community boards that are representative of the neighborhoods they serve, responsive to their local concerns, transparent in how decisions are made, and forward-thinking in encouraging and developing the next generation of community leaders. To accomplish this, vote Yes on Proposal 3 this Tuesday.

Marco Conner is the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives and Rachel Bloom is the director of public policy and programs at Citizens Union.