LocationAlhambra , CA United States
The Alhambra City Council, meeting in special session, voted unanimously Monday afternoon to grant Councilmember Katherine Lee a leave of absence for the rest of the month of October.
The Council voted four to zero to grant the leave of absence, after Lee attended the Council meeting in person to make the request, citing unspecified health issues, before recusing herself from the vote. Because she was present at this Council meeting, which took place 28 days after her first absence on Sept. 9, she was no longer in danger of having to vacate her seat.
According to the Alhambra City Charter, Council members who miss 30 consecutive days, would have to vacate their positions, unless granted a leave of absence by the City Council.
Because of this leave of absence, Lee will have to return to her seat as 1st District Council member, starting Nov. 12, otherwise the city would again start tracking her absences for another 30 days.
Six residents spoke during public comment in support of Lee being granted her leave of absence. The speakers pointed out that other City Council members had been granted leaves of absence in the past, and praised Lee for how hard she worked on behalf of Alhambra’s 1st District residents.
Around a dozen members of the public attended the meeting, most of whom were residents who are active in the community. Nobody spoke against granting the leave of absence.
“When she committed to something, she would come through, and if she couldn’t do it, there would be very, very good reasons,” said Terry Skotnes, the California Teachers Association’s liaison to the Alhambra Teacher’s Association. Lee is a teacher in the Alhambra Unified School District and a member of the ATA. “I suspect tonight if she’s asking for a leave of absence that that is the case,” Skotnes said.
The rest of the City Council wished Lee a swift recovery, while also expressing concern that she had missed two consecutive meetings, and that she had not been responsive to emails and other communication from her colleagues on the Council or her constituents during the past month.
“Life does happen, and I understand that these things can be complicated, and it’s not something I feel was appropriate to pry into,” said Councilmember Jeff Maloney, adding that he hoped Lee would be back full-time after the leave of absence.
Lee said that she had been having health issues for most of the month of September, and had taken many days off from her teaching position at Repetto Elementary School in Monterey Park, before returning full-time last week. She requested a leave of absence in case she wasn’t feeling well enough to attend October’s regular Council meetings, which are scheduled for Oct. 14 and Oct. 28.
Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler asked Lee if she could be available to answer email queries from her constituents during her leave of absence, to which Lee agreed. “Since I’ve returned to work already for a week, if I’m working, I should be able to attend to emails regarding city business,” she said.
Lee was elected to the City Council from Alhambra’s 1st District last November, winning nearly 40 percent of the vote against two opponents.
The leave of absence was the only issue considered in this special Council session.