Rep. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, died Friday while serving his 15th total term in the Maine Legislature. Credit: Courtesy of the Maine Legislature

AUGUSTA, Maine — State Rep. John Tuttle, who represented Sanford and surrounding towns in the Maine Legislature for nearly 30 years, died Friday at age 70.

The Democrat was serving his 15th total term in Augusta after winning his seat in the 2020 election. He was first elected to the House in 1978 and split his service between the two legislative chambers during his long career, winning 12 House terms and three in the Senate. He was also a sitting Sanford councilor.

Tuttle’s death was announced on Friday by the office of House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford. His office did not provide a cause or date of death, but the Legislature’s website indicated that Tuttle died Friday. He was absent from House votes Wednesday.

“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,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement.

He was a retired emergency medical technician who at different times chaired the legislative committees overseeing labor and liquor policy. In the Senate, Tuttle helped broker a 2013 compromise with then-Gov. Paul LePage to pay nearly $500 million in hospital debt by borrowing against revenue gained from a renegotiated liquor contract.

Tuttle lost his seat in 2014 to Sen. David Woodsome, R-North Waterboro, after a story from the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting on his political committee, which reimbursed Tuttle and family members for travel and other expenses. This practice was legal, but it prompted discussion around the use of these types of committees.

As he charted his political return in 2020, Tuttle told the York County Coast Star that he wanted to support the Sanford airport, increase education funding and reduce the costs of prescription drugs.

“I’ve pretty much always run positive campaigns, and I want to continue,” Tuttle told Foster’s Daily Democrat ahead of that election. “One of the reasons I’m running again is I want to bring some civility back to the Maine Legislature.”

Michael Shepherd

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...