Politics & Government

Updated: Ex-commissioner Bob Macleod never had Alzheimer's

The last I'd seen or heard of Bob Macleod, the former radio reporter-turned-Thurston County commissioner, was a couple years ago. He was headed into retirement before his term was finished. A budding Alzheimer's condition was to blame.

Fast forward to this good news: I saw the 83-year-old Democrat when I stopped by briefly at Sen. Karen Fraser's yearly political picnic at Tumwater Falls Park last evening. Macleod looked younger than I'd recalled and his mind was sharp, reminiscent of the man who worked so ably on the air at KGY Radio before he retired and went into politics.

What gives? It turns out that the story that accompanied his resignation from the Thurston County Commission in November 2008 — that he had early-stage Alzheimer's — was not true. No dark back story here: Macleod told me informally that additional tests simply showed that he had a different, treatable condition — "deep depression."

That story about his real condition, he said, never got out as well as the one about his suspected Alzheimer’s did, Macleod said without a trace of rancor. Meantime, Karen Valenzuela was appointed to his seat by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2009; Valenzuela was re-elected to finish Macleod’s term in 2009 and is now defending the seat for a full four-year term against Republican challenger Pat Beehler.

For the record, Fraser's fund-raising picnic, one of the largest political gatherings of any political stripe in Thurston County most years, looked typical — several hundred people milling around and eating, with a few speeches thrown in.

Most years I try to stop by in case there is news. I missed news if there was any last evening, but the place was crawling with Democrats (and a few Republicans like former state Rep. Shirley Hankins) and I did get a chance to touch base with a few candidates for local office.

UPDATED to indicate the underlying illness that helped Macleod decide it was time to quit politics. We have a story with more detail coming for the morning paper.