SEA BRIGHT MAYOR ROLLS BACK INTO ACTION

m-fernandesMaria Fernandes returned to Sea Bright Borough Hall Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s been a hellish five months for Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes.

She underwent foot surgery at the beginning of September. A week later, she suffered a mild stroke, sidelining her from her official duties. Then, in her recovery, an infection forced her to have her left leg amputated just below the knee.

“It wouldn’t let go,” Fernandes said of the infection. “I suffered like a dog.”

But she says she’s back now, and ready to get to work — not that she was ever that far from it.

“I was constantly checking in with the town,” Fernandes said Tuesday night, her first day back behind the municipal dais, seated in a wheelchair for a council meeting. “I wasn’t here in body, but I was here in spirit at all times.”

Indeed, the spirit of some of her communiques from her recovery bed blindsided other elected officials, including one in which she ordered Council President William Keeler to start using a cellphone.

During the meeting, she glossed over her absence and instead focused on the work ahead. She made it clear that she’s hot on getting a party planned for the borough’s 115th birthday, in April, and issued an order to find a solution to the mounting snow piles in town.

Although she’s got a ton of rehab to go through — she’ll get a prosthetic leg to get used to — Fernandes said she doesn’t plan on missing much more than she already has. She’s already announced her intention to seek a second term this year.

“I’m going to do some tune-ups,” Fernandes said, but, “I came a long way, so I’m very happy to be back.”