Tony Petelos, first director and chief executive of Jefferson County, announced Tuesday that he plans to retire later this year.
He was appointed to the newly created position on October 1, 2011, just a month before Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy, one of the largest municipal bankruptcies in US history, as it faced debt total of $4.2 billion.
Petelos, 67, helped oversee the county’s rebound as he refinanced sewer bonds and raised sewer rates to emerge from bankruptcy.
Petelos previously served as state legislator and mayor of Hoover.
“Helping to shape and shape the role of county executive in Jefferson County has been one of the most satisfying jobs of my entire career,” Petelos said. “While I have enjoyed serving in the Legislature, DHR and as Mayor of Hoover for two terms, Jefferson County has faced some serious challenges. I can retire knowing that I helped turn the county around. , and it is on the strongest financial basis.
Petelos was elected to the House of Representatives in 1986 and was re-elected twice, until 1997.
Governor Fob James appointed him commissioner of the Alabama Department of Human Resources in 1997 and he was reappointed by Governor Don Siegelman. The Department of Human Resources was under a federal consent decree when Petelos took over the position. He worked on a plan that helped the ministry be released from the consent decree.
Petelos was elected Mayor of Hoover in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 unopposed.
Petelos also helped Jefferson County emerge from a longstanding consent decree last year.
“The new management we have in place is top notch and extremely diverse,” Petelos said. “I’m not usually one to say I’m proud, but I’m proud of what Jefferson County is today.”
Petelos is also a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2 bladder cancer. He underwent numerous treatments and was declared cancer free in late 2015. He said at the time that this had changed his outlook on life, allowing him not to get bogged down in small things.
“We have to put that aside and realize that something can hit you one day or instantly and life is gone,” he said. “Every day is a blessing.”