Peru mayor reclaims office after heart attack

Nov. 2—PERU — Six months after suffering a heart attack, Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt is returning to the day-to-day operations of the mayor's office.

Senior Judge for Miami County Circuit Court David Cox ruled Monday afternoon that Hewitt is able to perform the duties of the city's executive office after brief testimony from Hewitt and considering a doctor's letter from Hewitt's physician.

The 70-year-old first-term mayor resumed as acting mayor Tuesday.

Monday's hearing was brief, lasting less than 10 minutes. Hewitt testified that he believed he was able to return to his duties as mayor. He, through City Attorney Dustin Kern, filed a letter from Hewitt's physician Roderick Sawyer, a cardiologist with Lutheran Health Network, stating the doctor believes Hewitt is able to return to work. Cox agreed.

Monday's hearing was attended by City Council members, some city employees and friends and family of Hewitt.

"I feel fantastic," Hewitt said to the Tribune after the hearing when asked how he feels about returning to work. "I think it's great that I get to go back to do what the people have elected me to do."

On April 29, Hewitt suffered a heart attack that landed him in the ICU.

On May 18, Peru City Council President Patricia Russell was appointed as acting mayor after Miami Circuit Court Judge Tim Spahr deemed Hewitt unfit for office. At that time, Russell testified that Hewitt had recently been taken off a ventilator but had trouble speaking and writing, so he couldn't conduct any official business.

Russell's appointment as acting mayor falls under Indiana Code 36-4-5-8, which says the council president can petition a local court to become the acting mayor for up to six months if said person believes the mayor is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of the executive's office" and is deemed so by a judge. If after six months the mayor is still unfit, the office becomes vacant, according to the state statute.

Hewitt told the Tribune he was in the ICU for 26 days, followed by a month in the hospital, a month in inpatient rehabilitation and then finally outpatient rehabilitation.

"I'm feeling better every day," Hewitt said.

When asked if he's decided whether to run for reelection, Hewitt said he hasn't "fully 100% decided on that." Hewitt's term lasts through 2023.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.