CityViews: Vote Yes on Proposal 3 to Make Boards Reflect Their Communities

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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.

5 thoughts on “CityViews: Vote Yes on Proposal 3 to Make Boards Reflect Their Communities

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful op-ed.

    Generally, I oppose term limits. We have term limits. We call them “elections”.

    But community boards aren’t elected; they’re appointed, seemingly for life.

    In practice, typically, community board members are rigid, shortsighted, and unresponsive to other than limited slices of the communities they represent. You characterize them as “…passionate, thoughtful, intelligent, and dedicated…” which may apply to a few members of community boards, not the majority.

    Good governance benefits both from continuity and turnover. It’s time for most community board members to turn over. If they and the electeds who appoint them don’t recognize this, Proposal 3 conveys the message clearly.

    Yes, vote “Yes” on Prop 3.

  2. Too many community boards have been hijacked by seniors that choose to vote “No” on any development that might generate too much construction noise or traffic. It is because of community boards why we don’t have direct subway access to LGA Airport, it is because of the senior dominated community board 10 that a much needed animal shelter in the Bronx is having trouble getting approved. They complain the shelter would create traffic, these are people that most likely don’t own cars! They are asking for another youth center, that would be the 7th in the C0-0p City area. Community Boards don’t just need term limits they need a youth movement.

  3. Term-limiting CB members would be a mistake. Not that many people are interested in those positions in the first place, or have the time for the job. CB members and city council members are always going to represent ‘limited slices’ of communities. That’s to be expected and there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. My councilmember is paid to put my district’s interest’s first. Your councilmember is paid to put your district’s interests first.

  4. Pingback: ENDORSEMENT: Vote Yes on Ballot Question 3 – Streetsblog New York City

  5. Pingback: ENDORSEMENT: Vote Yes on Ballot Proposal 3 | News for New Yorkers

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