After more than 40 continuous years as a Jefferson Healthcare commissioner, Anthony “Tony” DeLeo has decided to retire and not seek what would have been his eighth six-year term in …
After more than 40 continuous years as a Jefferson Healthcare commissioner, Anthony “Tony” DeLeo has decided to retire and not seek what would have been his eighth six-year term in office.
“The decision to leave office at the end of my current term was not an easy one,” DeLeo wrote in response to an email from The Leader last week after Cheri Van Hoover announced she would seek the seat DeLeo will have held, at the end of the 2017, for 44 years. In addition to seven full terms, DeLeo also served an unexpired term.
Over those decades, DeLeo faced three challengers, as far as he could remember.
DeLeo said he made the decision to retire around his 68th birthday, in February, but decided to wait to share that news so that he could be more effective as a commissioner.
“Now that the press has asked the question, I felt the time had arrived,” he wrote. He announced his retirement first to the staff of Jefferson Healthcare, so that they could read about it before it was in The Leader, he said.
“I honor these wonderful people with whom I have had the opportunity to share this journey and felt they deserved this consideration,” DeLeo said.
As for what he is most proud of, he said, “If I were to choose, I would say that I am proud of these people and of having had the honor to serve with them.”
“I plan to remain an active and contributing member of the hospital board right up to my last day in office, Dec. 31, 2017, as there are many things still to be accomplished, and I plan to be part of all of them,” DeLeo wrote.
NO ENDORSEMENT PLANS
DeLeo said he does not plan to endorse anyone.
“I feel that whoever has the courage and conviction to run for office should do so on their own merits,” he said. “I will make myself available to answer questions related to serving in public office or current issues facing the board to any candidate who may ask.”
DeLeo also said he feels strongly that the outlying areas of the hospital district – Quilcene, Brinnon, Port Ludlow, Chimacum and Port Hadlock – should be represented on the board by members of those communities.
DeLeo lives in Port Hadlock, as does Van Hoover. Former hospital commissioner Chuck Russell, who lives on Marrowstone Island, lost in 2015 to Kees Kolff of Port Townsend. All of the other commissioners live in Port Townsend or just outside city limits, DeLeo said.
“The problem has historically been that no one stepped forward to serve,” DeLeo said.
DeLeo said that when the hospital district was first formed, it was divided into three commissioner districts, similar to the way the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners and Jefferson County Public Utility District are now divided.
“The hospital district board went through the process to abolish the districts to assure that we would be able to fill the seats on the board,” DeLeo said of the five commissioner seats, all of them now nonpartisan and at large.
“This, I feel, creates a campaign challenge for candidates from outlying areas,” DeLeo said.
And as a final note, DeLeo said, “To any who may be curious, there is no pension, no gold watch when I leave office, but hopefully, I will leave my mark on the health of my community and assuring that the best possible healthcare services will be available to my family and neighbors should the need arise,” he said.