Written By: Ishton W. Morton – September 12th, 2019
After 27 years of service, cancer has forced longtime Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune into retirement. Surprisingly on Thursday September 12th, 2019 Portune revealed he will not seek reelection for another term in 2020.
The 61-year-old Portune during an emotion-choked news conference outside the County Commission meeting room paused for a moment as he gather himself and announced he will not seek another term..
Portune, the long-time public servant is currently President of Hamilton County Commissioner Board. He was elected to the board in 2000 after serving eight years on Cincinnati City Council.
Subsequently, Portune has been battling cancer for years. Back in 2018 he had his leg amputated to remove cancerous tissue.
Unfortunately, the cancer has returned, and the chemotherapy is not working. With his children Elise and Ethan present at the news conference, he had this to say; “My cancer has spread further and has me left in an extremely compromised position. I’ve got the biggest fight of my life ahead.”
Nevertheless, Portune said although I will not be running for reelection in 2020, I am not retiring.
In a show of support, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, a fellow Democrat, and Republican Chris Monzel, a former Cincinnati City Council member and a former Hamilton County Commissioner, attended Portune’s news conference at the county administration building just before the board’s regular meeting.
Meanwhile, Cranley released the following statement; “In addition to improving our community in thousands of ways, the eternal values of human rights Commissioner Portune has fought for will be the most important and enduring of his legacy. He fought for gay rights before it was popular, against police brutality before it was popular, for disability inclusion before it was popular, for harm reduction and addiction help before it was popular, for all minorities and for those who had no voice. That’s the legacy his kids will know and I will trumpet. It’s the legacy that has inspired all of us, myself included.”
Notably, Portune was appointed to fill a council vacancy in 1993 and went on to win elections in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999.
He added, “There is no job that I have enjoyed better than having had the opportunity to serve the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. It has been a great ride. There’s still a little bit more of the ride to go.”
Accordingly in support as he explained his physical and medical realities he now faces hands of friends reached for his shoulders.
Yet, Portune profoundly summoned the inner-strength he has relied on for more than a quarter-century of failing health to face a moment of professional and personal truth.
He added “The fact of the matter is the chemotherapy has not worked, OK, and my cancer has spread.”
Again, after 27 years in elected city and county office, Portune made it official that won’t run again and will likely step away before his current term is up. And added, “I’ve got the biggest fight of my life ahead of me.”
Moreover, former Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel, a Republican who served with Portune, was in the crowd along with former Cincinnati Mayor Dwight Tillery and current Mayor John Cranley.
Monzel had this to say; “My heart goes out to Todd. Even though we might be on different sides of the political spectrum, I know he’s a good and decent man.”
He continued to say, “Portune patiently related how the physical demands have outpaced his personal work ethic standards. Also, he displayed characteristic flashes of humor.”
Meanwhile Portune said to a roomful of laughter, “I especially like responding to people who are very angry with me in trying to, trying to help them understand why I’m thinking the way I am.”
Concurrently, those present to support his decision say they were encourage by his grace, dignity and the characteristic good humor on display today.
Furthermore, lifelong friend and fellow-Commissioner Denise Driehaus who is relatively a new-comer to County Government tried to soldier on with tears welling up in her eyes as she started the formal commission meeting.
She said to the crowed “Todd and I have been friends for a long time. So, it’s very difficult to think of him in terms of stepping down.”
It’s a point of professional pride for Portune that he’s largely viewed not in a partisan way but as a commissioner.
Nonetheless, border by his daughter, Elise, and son, Ethan, Portune described his life as tremendously blessed.
Per WLWT TV5 News, He said, “And if that means I get to live for a long time, that’s great. And if that means the Lord has something else in mind for me, then I’m comfortable with that, too.”