Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland. Credit: Maine House of Representatives

AUGUSTA, Maine — A former Democratic state representative from Cumberland and state human services official died Tuesday at age 68, three weeks after he resigned from the Legislature citing lung cancer.

Former Rep. Dale Denno died Tuesday night, according to a statement from House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, who called Denno “a fierce advocate for his constituents.” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement that Maine is “better off because of Dale’s dedicated service.”

Denno was born in California, went to high school in New York and became a lawyer before moving to Maine more than three decades ago. He worked for 16 years in senior roles at the insurance company Unum before serving stints as an assistant Maine attorney general and director of the Office for Family Independence. He retired from the latter job in 2013.

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Denno was elected to the Legislature to represent Cumberland and part of Gray in a 2016 rematch of the 2014 race that he narrowly lost to Republican Michael Timmons. He won re-election easily in 2018 after his lung cancer diagnosis.

In August 2018, Denno disclosed his diagnosis to The Forecaster, saying constituents had a right to that information while his “passion for public service” was “undiminished.” He resigned in late March in a statement that said it was “no longer realistic for me to continue.” He is survived by his wife, Diane Dahlke, their two sons and two grandchildren.

Denno’s seat has been vacant since late March. It will be filled in a June 11 special election. Democrats have chosen former Rep. Stephen Moriarty of Cumberland as their candidate, while Republicans will run KC Hughes of Cumberland, who runs a Portland screenprinting business.

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Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...