As the East Lansing City Council began their special meeting to discuss the strategic direction of the city in the coming years, one difference was felt throughout the room — the absence of Mayor Nathan Triplett.
Triplett was hospitalized on Monday because of complications with Crohn’s Disease. He underwent surgery on Tuesday, according to a statement from the city released Tuesday.
Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, who takes over as mayor for Triplett’s absence, said Triplett will need six weeks to recover from his surgery. Goddeeris served as mayor from 2011 to 2013.
“Our thoughts are with Mayor Triplett as he undergoes surgery today,” City Manager George Lahanas said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his recovery.”
After the special meeting, the council continued with a work session in city hall.
During the meeting, Goddeeris received a text message from Triplett’s wife and announced that it said he had gotten through the surgery and was recovering in Sparrow Hospital.
Although it was unusual to not have the mayor at the meeting, Goddeeris said the process must continue as normal.
“Over time, we’ve had meetings where there have only been four council members present,” she said.
With the amount of voting council members now an even number, Goddeeris said if there is a tied vote, any motion would fail because of a lack of majority of members present.
Goddeeris said although the process must continue as normal, some larger issues might be put on the back burner when setting the agenda with city manager Lahanas while Triplett recovers.
“On special, long-term issues when there is not a pressing period of time when we need to act on it we would try to hold off on those type of decisions,” she said. “All five of us were elected by the citizens, so the citizens would want all five people making those decisions.”
Goddeeris said she will remain in contact with Triplett while he recovers, and is sure he will stay informed on city policies while he recovers.
“He certainly will be following the granius (online agendas) and watching the meetings to keep up to speed,” she said.
In addition to Mayor Triplett’s absence council and city officials discussed the response to the ice storm that hit East Lansing in December. The Council discussed the response of Board Water and Light, or BWL, to the storm and power-outages that followed and left 34,800 people across the Lansing area without power, some of which still didn’t have power into the new year.
Mayor Triplett was supposed to draft a letter to BWL, but because of his medical situation, was unable to do so.
BWL will be having their own review meetings in East Lansing, Meridian Township and Lansing throughout the week.