OCEANSIDE — Mayor Jim Wood was back behind the dais leading the City Council meeting on Dec. 6 after a 133-day absence.
His return is just two weeks prior to the final deadline to declare his seat vacant, following a 60-day medical leave, additional 60-day legal grace period and an extra 27-day approved absence from office to allow him to recover from a stroke he suffered in May.
Before the meeting city staff and residents welcomed him back. Throughout the meeting speakers who took to the podium added well wishes to the mayor to their comments. Wood presided from a wheelchair and did not speak more than a few words.
During his extended absence Wood missed 10 regular council meetings.
He last attended a special council meeting in October to request the final 27-day leave. At that time his council aide, Debbie Walker-Mikulay, helped him address fellow council members by reading a statement from him.
The council unanimously granted the mayor an extended excused absence through Dec. 20. Council members said the additional days would still allow a June election to be held if the mayor was not able to return to his seat.
The council would also have the option to appoint a mayor, but most thought it would be unlikely for the four council members to agree on an appointment.
Many, including council members, were also concerned the four-person council would have difficulty reaching consensus on city issues. There was one tie vote during the mayor’s leave.
On Dec. 6 city staff said the mayor plans to regularly attend meetings going forward. Staff added the mayor has kept in contact with the city manager and city attorney during his absence and is up to date on city issues.