Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said he had held out saying anything for as long as he could but knew the time had come.
“It had to happen sooner or later,” Martini told the Sparks Tribune about his announcement that he has Parkinson’s disease. He said he was diagnosed in 2012.
Martini, the longest-serving mayor of Sparks and a life-long resident of the city, said his condition was becoming more noticeable. He’s using a walker more to get around and has become a little more unstable.
“I was blaming things on my back, which was actually true—I do have a bad back problem,” the mayor said in an interview. “But now it’s getting a little worse, and I decided it was time for me to come out and tell everybody what’s going on.”
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Trembling is the best-known symptom of Parkinson’s, which develops gradually. The disease also causes stiffness and slowness of movement. No cure exists, but medication can lessen symptoms.
“My dad had it, and I watched him go through it. It’s not an easy thing,” Martini said.
The mayor, who said in his formal announcement that he feels great, has no intention of stepping away from City Hall.
“I’ve got three more years on my term,” said Martini, who’s been Sparks’ top elected official for 10 years. “I fully anticipate I’m going to be here long enough to do that, and I’m going to work hard at getting through it. I’ll do what I have to do to get through the next three years.”
In his self-deprecating, humorous fashion, he added: “My brain’s still working pretty good. Well, it never worked well at all. It’s not getting worse than it was, let’s put it that way.”
When his third full term expires in November 2018, Martini said he will then “hopefully walk into the sunset and retire, and that’s it.”
“Best job I’m ever going to have and the last job I’m ever going to have,” he said of his city post.
The mayor concluded his formal announcement with the following: “I love my hometown and its people, and I am grateful (for) and overwhelmed (by) everyone’s love and support.”