Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. announced last week that he will not run for reelection in 2020 so he can instead focus on his health.
Walsh, D-Elwood, made the announcement amid health concerns that he has been facing for the past five years. The 71-year-old said his doctors urged him to focus on getting better.
He was treated for prostate cancer in 2014 after a diagnosis at a regular medical checkup. Since then, he’s continued getting checkups, and late last year he announced that he had begun chemotherapy treatments after receiving a second prostate cancer diagnosis.
“In the last couple of months, it has recurred with a vengeance,” Walsh said.
Walsh said his doctor told him to try to do as much as he could to get better, but he initially had other ideas. He said he told his doctor, “That sounds good, but I got a campaign to run.”
The doctor, according to Walsh, responded, “No campaign.”
His office said last year that Walsh intended to complete his treatment plan and maintain as regular a work routine as possible. Since then, he was regularly at the Will County Office Building and missed only one County Board meeting. He could also be seen at various county events.
Walsh was first sworn in as Will County executive in December 2004. As county executive, he is responsible for day-to-day operations for all county departments and presides over Will County Board meetings.
Walsh has a long career in public service, going back to the 1970s. He has also served as a member of the Elwood School Board, as Jackson Township supervisor, twice as a Will County Board member and as an Illinois state senator for the 43rd District from 1997 to 2005.
Nick Palmer, Walsh’s chief of staff, commended his boss for always trying to reach across the aisle in his service to the public and looking out for his constituents.
“He’s committed to taking care of the little guy,” said Palmer. “He’s one of a kind.”
His family has also been active in public life. One son, Larry Walsh Jr., represents the 86th District in the Illinois House of Representatives. Another son, Shawn Walsh, is the elected regional superintendent of schools for Will County.
Walsh has six children and 20 grandchildren.
“I’ve had a good run,” Walsh said.
His current term, which he said he would complete, ends in 2020.