CARSON — Helen Kawagoe has rescinded her resignation as Carson city clerk, the city government announced Jan. 4 on its website.
Kawagoe, 84, has been recovering from a stroke that she suffered in September. Chief Deputy City Clerk Wanda Higaki has been filling in, and city officials had to decide whether to appoint a successor or call a special election.
The announcement came only a week after the city said that Kawagoe had tendered her resignation, “due to health reasons,” effective Dec. 31. “She will retire after 37 years of service,” the city said on Dec. 27. “She has appreciated the honor and privilege to serve as your elected city clerk. The City of Carson will always remain in her heart.”
The city did not explain her change of heart, but did provide an update on her condition: “She is undergoing therapy at the Sunnyside Transitional Skilled Nursing Home in Torrance. She welcomes visitors, and it is best to visit during the mid-morning or early afternoon. Visiting hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“She shares a room with two other patients and space is limited. Please respect the privacy of Helen’s two roommates. A caregiver for Helen is there as well. She sends her love and thanks everyone for the many cards, prayers and keeping her in your thoughts.”
According to the Daily Breeze, city officials are researching whether Kawagoe can retain her title while simultaneously receiving CalPERS retirement benefits.
“She’s decided not to resign as an elected city clerk but she is trying to retire from PERS,” City Attorney Bill Wynder told the newspaper. “The issue is whether she can retire from PERS even though she’s rescinded her resignation.”
City Councilmember Mike Gipson, who recently visited Kawagoe, told the Daily Breeze that she might recover: “The Helen I saw, she could get up and walk. Her speech was a little impaired, but I think she’s going to bounce back. This woman is the longest-serving city clerk in California. She’s devoted her life to this.”
Questions about the City Clerk’s Office should be directed to (310) 952-1720 or [email protected]