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.

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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.

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“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.

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