By Sarah Shurge – After seven and a half years of serving the community, Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Porter, resigned from his seat on City Council on Tuesday, June 20th. Effective Wednesday, June 21st, his resignation was final and official.
“I have put off this day as long as I possibly could,” said Porter. “I’m sorry I have to leave Council at this time, but my health says I cannot serve you, my constituents, with the hard work you deserve from a member of council.”
Council members had nothing but kind words for Porter upon his resignation announcement during the council meeting on Tuesday and they all supported the motion, but with regret.
“Very sad to see you go but I understand. Your health comes first. Your family comes first. And I know this is not a decision that you’ve made lightly,” said Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa at the council meeting. “You’ve served this community with great pride and have been very supportive and have always given your best through some really, really trying times that we’ve been through.”
Porter joined the City Council in November 2015.
“I went to quite a few council meetings for the first 15 years I lived here in Wayne,” said Porter. “We didn’t need the same people, we needed new people and a new outlook. That’s exactly what we got. The current administration has done a great job and the council has tried to keep the finances under control.”
Finances were a huge part of why Porter joined the council, however, being a Veteran of the United States Navy, Porter played a significant role in the City of Wayne Veterans’ Memorial project.
“It’s where my wife and I chose to live. We fell in love with the city and wanted to help and make it better if I possibly could,” said Porter. “Bonnie and I made this our home 33 years ago and have done what we could to make this a good place to live and to raise a family. I wish we could have done more, but it was not because we didn’t try.”
In 2020, Porter was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer throughout his entire body including his lungs, liver, stomach, and neck. After receiving an echocardiogram, he was also informed that his heart was not functioning properly.
Porter began the chemotherapy process and experienced horrible side effects. One form of chemo lowered his blood pressure. Another irritated his skin when in sunlight. Another left him in the hospital for 16 days with a fever. After trying six different types of chemo, one finally worked and his lymphoma is in remission.
“It’s just a huge struggle that anyone that has cancer has to face. It’s [lymphoma] a cancer that you don’t really look that bad, so no one understands how much pain you have or how bad you feel,” said Porter. “It’s been a difficult struggle but I refuse to give up. I’ll be 80 years old in a couple of days. You can fight this no matter what.”
Porter not only battled with cancer, but he also battled with making a decision on whether or not to remain on the council.
“My wife is my rock. She has taken care of me for three years and when I was down, she kept me up. She kept me on the council for as long as I was,” said Porter. “I didn’t feel like my job was done yet, but I felt like I couldn’t serve like I needed to anymore. I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to do. I could only concentrate on myself.”
Realizing he needed to step away to focus on his health, Porter made the difficult decision to resign from the council. The council members and community showed nothing but support for his decision.
“It makes me want to cry, to tell you the truth,” said Porter. “I’ve always tried to the best of my ability to do the best I could. Everyone is praying for me. It’s overwhelming.”
A Facebook page was created to share news of Porter’s health and updates. You can find that on Facebook by searching “Team Porter.”
“My heart is always with the community. I love our city and all of the proud residents that make this their home. No matter what the future holds, I will love this city and its residents and hold you close to my heart, forever,” said Porter. “Thank you for everything you all have done while I was on City Council and a resident of this city. I’m here to help the city, that’s my main objective.”
On behalf of the City Council, City Administration, and the entire community, we want to express our sincerest gratitude to Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Porter for his exceptional service.