OCEANSIDE – Granting Mayor Jim Wood an extended excused leave to recover from a stroke he suffered in May was supported wholeheartedly by the City Council and community.
A special meeting was called by the mayor Oct. 4 to ask for more time to return to office. The meeting took place just an hour before that night’s City Council meeting in which a decision was looming on how to fill the vacant seat, after a 60-day medical leave and 60-day grace period had expired.
The mayor was assisted into the special meeting in a wheelchair. Due to his speech limitations his request for more time to fully recover was read by his aide Debbie Walker-Mikulay. He requested to have until Dec. 20 to return to office, and vowed he would attend any meeting in which a tie vote was likely.
In part his statement read, “The decision to ask for more time off was a difficult one, however, I believe I owe it to my constituents who overwhelmingly voted to re-elect me last year, to do all I can to honor their wishes that I serve as mayor until 2020.”
Heartfelt support for the mayor was voiced by residents, area officials and fellow council members.
Some said there have been numerous positive changes in the city over the 14 years Wood has served as mayor. Others shared that he has gone above and beyond for seniors and the community at large.
“One thing I know about Jim, his heart is in this community,” Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said.
Several speakers talked about a loved one who had recovered to their full potential after a stroke, or other serious health condition, and likened the mayor to a family member who deserved more time to get well.
“We all love the mayor,” an Oceanside resident said.
A unanimous vote granted the mayor an excused leave through Nov.1. After the 27 days he has a 60-day grace period to return to office before his seat is declared vacant. The Dec. 20 date the mayor requested is 50 days into that grace period.
Following the vote Councilman Jack Feller welcomed the mayor back.
Councilman Jerry Kern said the “90 days” will give the council time to hold a June election if the mayor is unable to return to his seat.
“Everyone gets what they need,” Kern said.
In a soft-spoken yet spirited manner the mayor thanked his supporters and fellow council members from the dais.
“Thank you all,” Wood said.
The extra 77 days requested by the mayor excuses him from five additional council meetings, including the one held that evening.
The mayor has been absent from six prior council meetings. During those meetings there was one tie vote.
After the meeting Walker-Mikulay said the mayor continues to make good strides toward his full recovery and plans to return to his seat in December.
“I think he’s going to work extra hard now to make that happen,” Walker-Mikulay said.
If the mayor is unable to return to office the council will need to once again consider an appointment or election.