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Oceanside Council Extends Mayor Wood’s Medical Leave

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood gives a thumbs up before the city council meeting, w...

Photo by Promise Yee

Above: Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood gives a thumbs up before the city council meeting, where he was granted an extension to his medical leave. His council aide, Debbie Walker-Mikulay, is at his side, Oct. 4, 2017.

Oceanside city council has agreed to Mayor Jim Wood’s request for another extension to his leave of absence, to give him more time to recover from a stroke suffered last May.

The mayor appeared at a special meeting Wednesday night to make his request but did not attend the full council meeting that followed.

Following the vote, which was unanimous, Wood’s aid, Debbie Walker-Mikulay, said he was grateful.

“I think he's going to work hard to complete his physical therapy, which includes voice therapy and helping with his walking and balance,” she said.

The medical leave is 30 days, followed by an additional 60-day grace period, during which the mayor could return to his position. This effectively gives the mayor another 90 days. It means Wood must return to the dais and resume his mayoral duties on Dec. 20.

In the event the mayor is unable to resume his duties on that date, this timeline gives the city council time to make an appointment or put the seat on the June ballot.

A special election would cost the city more than half a million dollars, but election codes do not require a special election to fill the mayor’s position. Oceanside City Attorney John Mullen said the relevant code is as follows:

In the case of a vacancy in the office of the mayor for any reason, the council shall fill the vacancy by appointment. If the council fails to fill it within 60 days, it shall call an election to fill the vacancy to be held on the next established election date to be held not less than 114 days thereafter. A person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent.

Wood, 69, was elected mayor in 2004 and has been re-elected three times. His current term extends to 2020.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery is filling in during the mayor's absence.

All four remaining members of the city council have expressed interest in becoming mayor.

Council members Jerry Kern, a Republican, and Esther Sanchez, a Democrat, are both candidates for Bill Horn’s seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors next year. An appointment to the Oceanside mayor’s seat would raise their profiles. Also running for the County Supervisor’s seat is San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, a Republican.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall conveyed support from the mayors of the neighboring North County Cities of Vista, Escondido and San Marcos for Wood's request for an extended leave of absence.

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