Tuesday’s Columbus City Council featured the return of a familiar face.
Mayor Robert Smith was back in his normal role of conducting the meeting after missing the last four council meetings because of an undisclosed illness. In his eight week absence, Ward 6 councilman and vice-mayor Bill Gavin ran the council meetings.
Smith also led the weekly department head meeting on Monday.
Smith’s absence at these meetings has been notable, not only because of the conjecture surrounding his health just two months before this year’s mayoral election in June, but because he’s been conducting these meetings for the past 15 years with only rare exceptions.
Since winning a special election in 2006 to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Jeffrey Rupp, Smith has led the meetings in his role as mayor.
But on Feb. 21, he was sent to the hospital. Although released later the same day, he had not returned to his regular duties as mayor until last week. Smith returned to the council meeting Tuesday with little fanfare, briefly thanking well-wishers before proceeding with city business.
The mayor will return to keeping limited office hours during the next three weeks on the advice of his doctor.
We take the mayor’s return as a positive sign that he is well on the way to recovery. Although Gavin acquitted himself well in his temporary role, Smith’s presence represents a return to normal operations.
Welcome back, Mayor.