On Thursday, Aug. 1, the Jacksonville Progress published a news story about Jacksonville's District 2 City Councilman Jeff Smith.
The article focused on the fact that Smith has missed eight of the past 12 regular city council meetings. Neither city officials nor Smith would give information about the absences, despite multiple requests.
On Friday, Aug. 2, Smith released a statement to the newspaper about his absences.
“During the last year, I have had severe back issues and a major infection in my spinal cord,” Smith said in a fax to the Jacksonville Progress.
He noted that he was admitted to the hospital for nearly two months, requiring multiple back surgeries. He also said the medical issues were life-threatening.
“While you are correct that for the first time in my 17 years as a city council member, I have unfortunately missed some meetings. I have, however, stayed engaged attending as many regular meetings, agenda workshops, budget workshops and special sessions as my health would allow,” the statement read.
According to the minutes from city council special meetings and agenda and budget workshops for the past 12 months, Smith has attended seven out of 22 sessions, or, a total of 11 out of 34 meetings for the past year.
However, Smith said it is “my intention, moving forward, to attend regular sessions and all other meetings regularly” although “I am still recovering from these issues and still have more physical therapy to attend.”
The next city council meeting is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Jacksonville City Hall.