Rep. John Tuttle Jr., a Sanford Democrat who served in the Legislature for nearly 30 years, has died. He was 70 years old.

Rep. John Tuttle

House Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, and Assistant House Majority leader Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, announced Tuttle’s death in a joint statement Friday but did not include any information about the cause. They described Tuttle as a “bastion of public service,” highlighting his work as an emergency medical technician and his service as a medic in the Maine Army National Guard.

“In the Legislature, you could always count on John to take our work seriously and bring levity to some of our most difficult debates,” they said. “He was a dedicated Democrat who demonstrated his values both within and outside of the State House walls, while working hard to achieve bipartisan solutions to our state’s problems. John was a great legislator, but perhaps more importantly, John was a great husband, father and grandfather who loved his family more than anything. Our hearts are with his family as we grieve our friend.”

House Speaker Ryan Fecteau said Tuttle was serving his 12th nonconsecutive term as a representative, while also serving as a Sanford city councilor. Fecteau said Tuttle was “ever a fighter,” noting his history as a champion high school and collegiate wrestler who was inducted into the Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008.

Fecteau highlighted Tuttle’s bipartisan efforts to support Maine hospitals and veterans and to improve infrastructure.

“John’s passing is a tremendous loss to the City of Sanford, the State of Maine, and all of us who knew and loved John,” Fecteau said. “We send our condolences to his wife Ann, his beloved daughter and grandchildren.”


Gov. Janet Mills also issued a statement.

“As a medic in the Maine Army National Guard, as a selectman and city councilmember, and as a member of the Legislature for nearly three decades, including in positions of leadership, John Tuttle served our state with distinction and honor,” Mills said. “I am grateful for his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of the people of Maine, and especially those of his beloved City of Sanford. On behalf of the people of Maine, I extend my condolences to John’s wife, Ann, his daughter, Meghan, and his grandchildren, as well as his friends and loved ones.”

Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said Tuttle’s public service went beyond his political career.

“John spent his life serving the very community he grew up in, whether it was enlisting in the Maine National Guard, responding to a crisis as an emergency medical technician, or advocating for working-class families and folks who felt left behind in the Maine Legislature,” Jackson said in a written statement. “Those of us who served alongside him knew that his deep love for the City of Sanford could only be matched by his love and commitment to his family – his wife, Ann, his daughter, and his grandchildren. … He was a devoted public servant who wasn’t afraid to crack a joke and never took himself too seriously.”

Republican colleagues also paid tribute to Tuttle on Friday.

Rep. Matt Harrington, R-Sanford, and Sen. David Woodsome, R-York, issued a joint statement saying Tuttle was a longtime friend.

“We’ve had the honor to serve alongside and know John, for years. Even when he wasn’t serving in Augusta, he regularly reached out to us regarding issues brought to his attention,” they said. “John loved life, politics, his family and his hometown of Sanford.”

Tuttle was first elected to the House in 1978. Besides his 12 terms as a representative, he also served three terms in the Senate.

It’s unclear whether the District 18 seat will be filled in a special election, or during the November special election.

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