SURREY — Councillor Mary Martin was back to work Monday after an almost eight-month medical break.
Sept. 11 was Martin’s first full day back at city hall.
On Jan. 16, Surrey council voted unanimously to excuse Martin from attending meetings until July in order to take time off to deal with health issues.
“It’s been a journey for me for the past two years,” Martin told the Now-Leader on Tuesday morning. “I was diagnosed with some tumours and I had major surgery in March. So I’m almost six months, six months will be on Sept. 24, so I’m recovering, and recovering well.
“I’m very, very grateful for a second chance,” she added.
Martin declined to publicly share more about her medical issues.
Under the Community Charter Sec. 125 (5), a city councillor is disqualified from office if they miss four meetings, or 60 days (whichever is longer), unless it is because of physical injury, or if they are given leave by council.
Martin was “permitted to be absent form regular council meetings, committee meetings and all other municipal meetings from Feb. 6 to July 31.”
She dove right back into her work once September hit, attending the first council meeting of the month on Sept. 11.
“So I’m back, I’m feeling very, very well and I was really happy to be back yesterday with my colleagues and I’ve missed working with the community, missed working with the people of Surrey and I’m looking forward to the next while,” she said.
“It was a whirlwind,” she said of her return. “Lots to catch up on with my colleagues, lots to catch up on with the general manager and the mayor, although I have been keeping quite involved. I haven’t missed a council meeting since I left, so I have been pretty much kept in the loop as to what’s happening in the community because is very important for me.”
After a 13-hour day, from 10 a.m. to almost 11 p.m. at Monday night’s public hearing, she’s taking Tuesday to recoup.
Martin wouldn’t say if she intends to run for re-election in 2018.
“I suspected that you would be asking me that. Honestly, right now, I’m going to focus on the issues at hand because I do have a lot to catch up on, and there’s so much happening in the city and that’s what I want to focus on. And that’s what I owe our residents,” said Martin. “Over the next few months those kinds of decisions.”
Martin first ran for council unsuccessfully in 2002, then won a seat under the Surrey Electors Team (SET) in 2005. Two years later, she left SET to join Surrey First, a coalition led by then-mayor Dianne Watts (who is now the South Surrey-White Rock MP for the federal Conservatives).
Martin has long-held positions on the city’s health committee, and was instrumental in the passage of a Surrey Smoking Bylaw that restricts where people can light up.
She also pushed for stronger laws around the use of pesticides in Surrey.
-With files from Black Press