The City of Novato Calif. logo. (Photo courtesy City of Novato)

Novato City Councilmember Amy Peele announced her resignation at the council’s Tuesday meeting, citing the mental health toll of serving as a local elected official during the pandemic.

Peele was elected to represent Hamilton and parts of southern Novato in November 2019 after retiring from working as a registered nurse and director of organ transplantation at University of California San Francisco in 2014.

She said during the Tuesday meeting that during her tenure, COVID-19 restrictions hindered her ability to work collaboratively with other councilmembers and community members, limiting how often they could meet in person in and outside of council meetings.

Peele cited one of the city’s initiatives to address homelessness by banning day camping in the city, investing in a local nonprofit and eventually setup interim housing for homeless individuals. The plan was met with backlash from homeless residents and a temporary injunction from a district court.

“Constant name-calling, vitriol, shaming and toxic comments and emails” from community members also contributed to Peele’s decision to step down, she said.

“The intense stress and demand of this position in the current climate have severely affected my mental and physical health,” Peele said. “As a medical professional, I have seen firsthand the short- and long-term effects of stress, and I am unwilling to subject myself to it any longer.”

Mayor Pat Eklund thanked Peele for her work and asked her to return in a future in-person meeting to be publicly recognized for her service.

“There’s no question that COVID and everything we’re experiencing has definitely made the job more difficult,” Eklund said during the meeting. “We’re very sad it came to this point, and we look forward to working with you as a member of the community.”

The council will discuss options to fill the vacancy at their Sept. 28 meeting.