Chula Vista Mayor Dies; Held Office for One Month : Illness: Yearlong battle with cancer ends in death for 36-year-old Gayle McCandliss.


Chula Vista Mayor Gayle McCandliss, who was elected the city’s second full-time mayor in November, died Thursday after a nearly yearlong battle with colon cancer.

The illness limited her tenure to less than a month. McCandliss, who was 36, took office Dec. 4. She was admitted to Mercy Hospital on Jan. 1, where she remained until her death, a city spokesman said.

McCandliss was appointed to City Council in July, 1979, when she was 24. She served as a council member for 10 years before being elected mayor. She replaced Greg Cox, who resigned after nine years as Chula Vista’s first full-time mayor.


“We are all pretty saddened by this tragedy,” said City Atty. Bruce Boogaard. “She was a very bright and dedicated public servant.”

Rumors about McCandliss’ illness circulated in the community after her election. She confirmed, in a public statement a few days before her inauguration, that she had cancer.

McCandliss said at the time that she was undergoing chemotherapy. She was upbeat and confident during an interview with The Times and gave assurances that she would be able to handle all mayoral duties.

During McCandliss’ years on council, Chula Vista adopted an aggressive development plan, expanding the city’s eastern boundary into the Rancho Otay area. She was sometimes on the losing end of 3-2 votes that allowed fast growth.

In addition, the city developed its marina area, opening it to tourists and shoppers.

McCandliss frequently emphasized her ties to the community. She had lived in Chula Vista for 30 years.

Last April, McCandliss threatened a push to assign Chula Vista police officers to patrol outside of County Jail in Chula Vista after a rash of prisoner escapes. She warned sheriff’s officials, who run the jail, about “the danger to the health and welfare of this community” posed by escaping prisoners.

“If necessary, the city is prepared to assign police officers to the area to observe the facility and bill the county,” she said then.

City Atty. Boogaard said the council will meet Tuesday to decide how to fill the vacancy created by McCandliss’ death. It can either appoint someone or hold a special election in June. An appointee would serve until November, 1992, said Boogaard.

McCandliss worked as an administrator in the County Department of Public Health from 1977 to 1990 and was the recipient of many community service awards. She graduated from San Diego State University in 1977, with a degree in microbiology.

She is survived by her mother, Norma McCandliss.

Public Memorial services are pending.