Stanley Gleaton has been a member of Community Board 10 in Harlem since he was appointed by former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger in 1994. He says longtime members like himself are vital to the board.
"There has to be someone on the board, and we've seen it time and time again, who has some sort of historical perspective on all that's going on," Gleaton tells us.
The city's 59 community boards are the first rung of municipal government. They advise the mayor and the City Council on hyperlocal issues, such as whether to install a bike lane or allow a restaurant to put tables on the sidewalk.
Members are unpaid and have been allowed to serve an indefinite number of two-year terms. Some, like Gleaton, have been fixtures for decades.
But on Tuesday, voters approved a ballot question that will prohibit community board members from serving more than four consecutive two-year terms.
"Folks who are new voices tend to be pushing for new ideas," says Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos, who campaigned for the ballot initiative.
The approval will sweep out many longtime board members, like Lisa Kaplan, a member of Community Board 3 in the East Village since Abe Beame was mayor in 1977. She says you can get new ideas without imposing term limits.
"What I've found is that it's wonderful to have a mix with a great deal of experience on CB3 and new people, which we generally have," Kaplan tells us.
She says the current system already allows for the borough president and council members to weed out weak board members every two years. But other board members say constant turnover isn't a bad thing.
"I don't think it's a bad thing when you have limits," Marquis Harrison of Community Board 10 said. "Sometimes, you just need to know when to let others step on and to serve their community as well."
The new limits will be implemented on a gradual basis so all long-term members are not swept out at once, creating a more orderly transition.