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Oceanside’s Ailing Mayor Requests A Third Leave Of Absence

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood, Jan. 15, 2016.

Photo by Promise Yee

Above: Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood, Jan. 15, 2016.

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood has written to the city council asking for an additional two months leave of absence. Wood has been gone since May when he suffered his forth stroke.

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood has called a special city council meeting asking for an additional two months leave of absence. Wood has been gone since May when he suffered his fourth stroke.

The council has already granted him two 60-day leaves of absence.

The mayor’s request may be a way for his colleagues on the city council to avoid a difficult decision. If the mayor does not return, an interim appointment would be tricky: the council does not have a history of cooperation. In fact, all four remaining council members have expressed interest in becoming mayor, should the need arise.

City Clerk Zack Beck said election law does not require a special election to fill the mayor’s position. So even if Wood does not get another two-month reprieve, it could be June of next year before voters could chose his replacement.

“A large city that has a diverse community and a lot of competing interests, only having a four-person council for a year would be a challenge,” Beck said. “It does create the potential for deadlock. They’ve done a good job managing over the last number of months since May to try and make it work. But I think they would all agree it’s a challenge when you have a four person council.”

Oceanside has a population of 175,000.

If one of the city council members did win the support of his or her colleagues, and gained appointment to the position, election law requires the city to mount a special election to replace that council member. Beck said that could cost the city well over half a million dollars.

If the council were to decide to appoint a successor from outside the city council, that person would need significant support: they would hold the role for three years, till the end of Wood’s elected term: 2020.

Beck said deadlocked votes on the city council have already stymied a $13 million aquatic center and risk leaving contentious issues, like how to regulate marijuana, unresolved.

Wood has called a special meeting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday before the regular council meeting, to request authorization for his continued absence through Dec. 6. His aid, Debbie Mikulay, said Wood is planning to attend.

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