Todd Portune to have leg amputated due to cancer

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune (Provided)
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune (Provided)
Updated: Apr. 11, 2018 at 12:28 PM EDT
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Cincinnati Enquirer - Todd Portune will have his left leg amputated due to cancer.

Portune, 59, announced he was diagnosed with cancer on Wednesday at the beginning of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners meeting.

This will sideline the president of the three-member county board of commissioners, leaving the county commission equally divided between Democrat Denise Driehaus and Republican Chris Monzel.

Driehaus will run the meetings in Portune's absence.  Portune said it won't affect any key votes and that he'll vote remotely if needed.

"Any matter requiring my vote will have my vote," Portune said. "We will convene meeting offsite if necessary."

Portune said he doesn't think he'll be gone long but didn't give a timetable for return.

Some key issues that are coming up before the commission.

–The agreement for the county to build a 1,000-space parking garage for FC Cincinnati expires May 31 if Major League Soccer doesn't announce whether the team gets the expansion franchise bid.

Portune has said that if the deadline isn't met, then the county and FC Cincinnati will have to renegotiate. He said he doesn't want to keep locked up the $15 million in parking revenues the county would use to build the garage.

–The commission might also have to decide whether to put a tax increase for Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services. The Tax Levy Review Committee will make a recommendation on whether to increase the JFS property tax rate after it hears a report in May detailing the finances of the organization.

Portune is one of the longest-serving Democratic elected officials in the region. He's only lost one election, his first one, when he ran against Ohio Senate President Stanley Aronoff in 1992.

Within two months of losing that election, he joined Cincinnati City Council in January 1993 as the replacement for David Mann, who was headed to Congress.

He spent eight years on city council before being elected in 2000 to Hamilton County Commission, where he's remained ever since.

Portune has battled health issues for the past two decades. Doctors in 1996 discovered tumors on Portune's spine and warned they could paralyze him if they continued to grow.

Treatment for a blood clot in 2002 caused the spinal tumors to hemorrhage, paralyzing him from the chest down. Portune walks with the aid of crutches now. But he hasn't let the health issues deter him from his work as a county commissioner.

His commissioner aide in 2002 would go to the hospital with work. Portune continued to introduce motions from his hospital bed.

It's not known how long Portune will be sidelined. But given his past track record, he'll likely still be involved in some way.