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Terms for county legislators may be extended to four years

Erie County residents may get a chance after all to vote on updating the County Charter. That update may include extending the terms for county lawmakers.

After the legislature failed to override the County Executive's veto of the proposed law, it was amended. Lawmakers then gave it overwhelming approval.

After removing the proposed changes to the County Attorney's office  that County Executive Mark Poloncarz rejected,  the amended Charter Revision Law was approved by a vote of nine to one. One legislator was absent. The lone no vote was cast by Minority Leader Tom Loughgran who is against extending legislator's terms from two years to four.

"What does the public get out of this? They lose accessibility. They lose accountability. This is really being slipped in under charter revision," Loughran said.   

Afterwards, Legislature Chair John Mills said Loughran is only opposing longer terms because he's running for higher office. Mills says there was little support for a version of the law with two-year terms.  

"I had some support from the Majority Leader and some other legislators but nobody wanted to get on the same page. That's why we put forward with six names, Local Law 12-2, which obviously worked because we got the other side of the aisle voting for it, too," said Mills, who maintains the Charter Revision contains other positive changes,  including a stronger Ethics Board, and full pay for County employees in the military who get called up for active duty.

Poloncarz has 30 days to make a decision. But first he plans on holding a public hearing on the proposed law.