WL Mayor John Dennis reveals Alzheimer’s diagnosis, plans to finish term
‘In a community this size, there’s no such thing as a secret,’ mayor says as he tells staff, city what he’s facing, what's next for City Hall
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis publicly revealed Thursday that he’s been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease but plans to stay in office through the rest of his current term, which runs through December 2023.
Dennis told city department heads, some city council members and a handful of community leaders – including Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and Purdue President Mitch Daniels – about his diagnosis and his plans in recent weeks, since getting results of neurological tests earlier this spring. A memo was scheduled to go out to city employees Thursday afternoon.
Dennis, a Republican in his 15th year as mayor, said he decided to go public with his health concerns and the fact that he would not run for a fifth term in 2023, rather than allowing rumors and questions to spread.
“In a community this size, there’s no such thing as a secret,” Dennis said. “People have noticed some changes in my behavior. … Everybody likes to believe that there’s strength in suffering in silence. When you’re responsible for a city, I don’t want to be told that I’m failing. I want to tell people what’s going on. I want that level of awareness, not just for the people that work for me, but for the citizens that I work for. …
“If they hear something in a whisper campaign about my mental health,” Dennis said, “I think they need to understand that I'm aware and that I'm making the appropriate adjustments.”