CUMBERLAND — State Rep. Dale Denno went into his current term representing House District 45 determined that his battle with lung cancer would not slow him down.

But in the past few weeks, “it has become apparent that it is no longer realistic for me to continue in my current role as state representative, and I want only the best representation for the people” of the district, Denno said in a statement Tuesday announcing his resignation, effective Wednesday, March 27.

First elected in 2016, the Cumberland Democrat announced his diagnosis and beginning of treatment last August – three months before his election to a second term. During the campaign he continued knocking on doors, erecting signs and engaging with voters whenever possible.

“Based upon initial medical advice, as well as strong energy and good spirits, I decided to continue representing the great people of Cumberland and Gray, and I am proud of my service to the wonderful friends and neighbors in those communities,” Denno said.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve as a state representative. I will always be grateful to my friends and colleagues in the Legislature, and especially the folks in Cumberland and Gray, for placing their confidence in me and offering me nothing but best wishes in good times and bad.”

Gov. Janet Mills, in a statement Tuesday, thanked Denno for his service.

“He has been a tireless champion for his constituents, fighting every day to improve their lives and advance policies that help people across the state,” Mills said. “His voice will be missed in the Legislature. I wish him and his family the best as he continues his valiant fight against cancer.”

Town Manager Bill Shane said he was saddened by Denno’s announcement.

“Dale is probably one of the most accessible people that I’ve ever worked with in Augusta,” he said. “He and (state Sen.) Cathy Breen have done such a great job for our town, and for our area. His shoes will be huge shoes to fill.”

“This is tough, this is tough,” the manager added. “This is a big loss for Cumberland, for sure.”

Cumberland must declare the seat vacant to the governor, and Shane said he hopes Mills will allow the town to hold the vote to replace Denno during the regular June election, to avoid the expense of a special election.

Former state Rep. Steve Moriarty, a Cumberland Democrat who served from 2012-2014, will run for that seat, Denno announced later on Tuesday.

“Knowing that Steve is willing to represent our communities in Augusta gives me incredible peace of mind as I resign my position,” Denno said of Moriarty, who served on the Town Council from 1987-1993, then from 1997-2012. “The people of House District 45 could not find a better person to represent them.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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