Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Stephannie Fortune announced Wednesday she has been diagnosed with leukemia and while she intends to finish her term, she will not seek reelection in April.
“Cancer is never an easy word to reconcile with and this time is no exception,” Fortune, a breast-cancer survivor, said in a news release.
Fortune was appointed to the City Council in January to replace former Councilman Richard Skorman, who stepped down to focus on his businesses. She represents District 3, which covers the southwest portion of the city and downtown.
In the news release, Fortune said she came to council "full of excitement, with a drive to serve, and my love for the city and its people as my foundation." She worked closely with neighbors on a new management structure for the Westside Community Center after intense controversy about its future.
In recent months, she learned she has leukemia and will need a bone marrow transplant, "a very intensive process," the statement said. She informed city officials and her fellow board members of her health condition in early October. Fortune has been participating in council meetings remotely in recent weeks, an option open to all council members.
The councilwoman intends to work until April, but she will not run for reelection so she can focus on her health, the statement said.
If she feels she is not able to continue her duties, she will determine next steps, according to the statement. The council would appoint a replacement, if Fortune decided to step down.
Fortune said in a brief interview she wanted to continue to work on the restructuring of the Westside Community Center and community development across Old Colorado City and Hillside. She would also like to work on solutions to serve the homeless residents with chronic mental illness.
"I want to do this as long as I can," she said.
Fortune previously worked largely behind the scenes in government. For example, she was the chief of staff for Scott McInnis, a Republican who represented Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in the 1990s. On the state level, she worked as the chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Jane Norton under Gov. Bill Owens and as the assistant director and legislative liaison for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Mayor John Suthers called Fortune a dedicated public servant who has served with "grace, dignity and enthusiasm."
“We are grateful for her determination to continue and appreciate her transparency and commitment to keeping us and the community apprised of her condition,” he said in a statement.
Fortune said the outpouring of support for her condition has been incredible and sustaining.
The group recalling Fortune and Councilman Wayne Williams, Integrity Matters, announced Wednesday it will no longer seek to remove Fortune from her council seat. The recall effort launched in August.