Illness Prevents Newly Elected Richmond City Councilman From Taking Office

RICHMOND (KCBS) – A serious illness that struck Gary Bell several days after he was elected to the Richmond City Council will likely prevent him from being sworn into office, leaving the council with a big decision over how to fill the vacancy.

In November, Bell was hospitalized with a “severe bacterial sinus infection,” according to a statement from Bell’s family. He has since undergone two neurosurgeries and is currently in a medically-induced coma that doctors say facilitates better healing.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

“My husband’s prognosis is good and we remain optimistic he will experience a full recovery,” wrote Bell’s wife, Shelley Ross-Bell.

It appears almost certain he will not recover in time for the swearing in ceremony on January 8, said Councilman Tom Butt.

“We really feel bad for Gary and his family having to go through this, and we all hope that he will make a full recovery at some point.”

If Bell is not present for the swearing-in ceremony, the office will be deemed vacant, Butt said. The city charter requires that within 60 days the new city council either appoint a replacement or call a special election to fill the seat.

Bell is president and CEO of Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Berkeley.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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