Bexley city attorney Lou Chodosh announced Jan. 17 that Mayor John Brennan had taken a temporary leave of absence for health reasons.

Editor's note: This story was published in the Jan. 26 edition of ThisWeek Bexley.

Bexley city attorney Lou Chodosh announced Jan. 17 that Mayor John Brennan has taken a temporary leave of absence for health reasons.

"At this time, City Council President Ben Kessler is assuming the role of acting mayor, as set forth in the Bexley City Charter, Section 11," Chodosh said.

Chodosh said Brennan had asked Kessler to serve as acting mayor on Jan. 12.

In 2011, Brennan announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He has been undergoing treatment at the Ohio State University's Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital.

Despite a rigorous treatment regimen that included chemotherapy and participating in a trial program at the hospital, Brennan missed only four regularly scheduled city council meetings in 2011. He was re-elected to a second term in office on Nov. 8, 2011.

Brennan's assistant, Debbie Maynard, said Brennan has strived to attend as many city meetings and functions as his health would permit. She said he did not attend council's Jan. 10 meeting and would not be on hand for the Jan. 24 session.

Chodosh said that until recently, Brennan worked at city hall when he could and had also been working from his home office.

Kessler said he will serve as acting mayor as long as he is needed.

"I've been working closely with Chief (Larry) Rinehart, the city directors, the Bexley auditor, and the Bexley city attorney during this time to ensure continued smooth provision of city services, and I've made arrangements so that I am able to continue to do so for as long as I am needed," Kessler said.

"John's strength, resolve and good humor are an inspiration," he added. "Please keep John and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

Bexley Service Director Bill Harvey said that while city staff have Brennan on their minds, they are doing their best to maintain a "business as usual" attitude at city hall.

"It has been business as usual in the city," Harvey said. "All city department heads meet regularly and talk almost daily to discuss city business. Mr. Kessler and other council members are in frequent contact with us, which is the way it has been since I have been here.

"We also have the advantage of an experienced and dedicated group of employees who understand what needs to be done to keep the city functioning. Everyone is working hard to keep any disruption to a minimum."

"We all wish Mayor Brennan a speedy recovery," Harvey added. "He and his family are in everyone's thoughts and prayers through this difficult time."

Council member Matt Lampke said he thought Brennan's decision to take a leave of absence was a wise one.

"Now is the time for John to focus exclusively on his health while still being able to return to the city's helm on his recovery," Lampke said.

Council member Rick Weber echoed Lampke's sentiments.

"I truly respect John's need to take a leave of absence in order to concentrate on his comfort and health," Weber said. " His mental and physical strength has been exemplary during a very difficult time for John and his entire family. I have total confidence in Ben Kessler's abilities as

Councilman Rick Weber agreed.

"I truly respect John's need to take a leave of absence in order to concentrate on his comfort and health," Weber said. " His mental and physical strength has been exemplary during a very difficult time for John and his entire family. I have total confidence in Ben Kessler's abilities as acting mayor."

Weber wasn't the only council member to praise Kessler for stepping up during Brennan's absence.

"I have complete confidence in Ben and the job he is doing," Councilman Tim Madison said. "He will do a good job. We're fortunate to have him."

Senior Councilman Mark Masser said he is confident council will work with city staff during Brennan's absence.

"I am confident in Ben's ability," Masser said. "He will do a great job as mayor and we will continue to get things done."

jdonahue@thisweeknews.com