Hamilton County Building Renamed To Honor Todd Portune
The Hamilton County commissioners are renaming the county administration building in Downtown Cincinnati the Todd B. Portune Center for County Government.
The honor was bestowed during the county commission meeting Thursday evening. Portune, who's retiring Dec. 31, was scheduled to attend the session, but was unable to because of his health.
The City of Cincinnati announced Wednesday that Court St. between Main and Walnut (where the county administration building is located) will have the secondary name Todd Portune Way.
Several elected officials and county residents spoke about Portune's contribution to the county.
Caleb Faux said Portune personifies the notion of public service.
"He more than anybody had the respect of everybody across the board," Faux said. "Even with people who he disagreed with on policy matters or political matters, they knew that he approached everything he did with thoughtfulness and hard work, and there aren't many like him."
Anderson Township Trustee Andrew Pappas also offered praise. Pappas, a Republican, ran against Portune, a Democrat, for county commissioner in 2016.
"Todd had a way, you could disagree with him, but you still got along with him," Pappas said. "And he had a unique quality of just being so genuine and such a genuine nice guy."
Portune announced in September that he would not be seeking re-election in 2020 because of his declining health.
Portune has battled severe health problems for more than 20 years. In 1996, doctors discovered tumors on his spine. Treatment for a blood clot in 2002 caused those tumors to hemorrhage, causing partial paralysis. Last year, he had his left leg amputated because of another tumor, and also had precautionary chemotherapy treatments. Earlier this year he fell at his home, causing further injury to his spine and returning him to a wheelchair. His cancer return was confirmed in April, and a series of experimental treatments this summer weren't effective in stopping it from spreading.
Portune, 61, was first elected a county commissioner in November 2000. At that time he was the first Democrat elected to the board in nearly four decades. Portune defeated Republican Bob Bedinghaus largely over voter anger with a lease for the Cincinnati Bengals and cost overruns for the team's Paul Brown Stadium.
Portune was successfully re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Prior to being a Hamilton County commissioner, Portune served seven years as a Cincinnati City Council member, having been appointed to a seat in 1993. He also considered running for Ohio governor in 2014, but did not enter the Democratic primary that year.
The Hamilton County Democratic Party's executive committee will name a replacement for Portune. That's expected sometime early next year.
The seat currently held by Portune is sought by three Democrats in the March 17, 2020 primary. They are: Alicia Reece, Kelly Prather and Connie Pillich. The Republican who filed for the seat is Andy Black.