Longtime legislator and former Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky of Fairfield died Wednesday morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.
Gwadosky, a Democrat, was Maine’s 46th Secretary of State under Govs. Angus King and John Baldacci from 1997-2005. His selection by the Legislature in December 1996 was unusual in that Republicans did not offer an opposing candidate and concurred with his nomination.
He also served as assistant majority floor leader and house majority leader and as director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations starting in 2005. Before being sworn in as secretary of state, he served 18 years in the Maine House of Representatives, including as speaker of the house from 1994 to 1996.
“He struggled a long time and dealt very well with it and worked until the end,” said Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake, referring to Gwadosky’s battle with cancer. “That was his style. He was a dedicated legislator.”
“He was very bright and quick-witted,” added Martin, who said he had known him for about 30 years. “He would get to the point very quickly and resolve the issues.”
Martin said Gwadosky was instrumental in helping create the community college system as the state knows it today.
He aimed to use technology to make things easier for citizens. As secretary of state he created more than 20 online services including auto registration and driver license renewals, vanity plate searches, absentee ballot applications and archival record searches.
“Dan made a tremendous contribution to the state of Maine through a long career in public service. He served as Speaker of the Maine House during very difficult times, and was always able to bring people together to move our state forward,” Baldacci said in a statement Wednesday afternoon from Washington. “Throughout his time in the Legislature, as Secretary of State and at the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, Dan was committed to innovation and to making government work for the people of Maine.”
Gov. Paul LePage also extended his condolences toward the Gwadosky family and commended his work saying in a press release, “His tireless service to the citizens of the great state of Maine will not be forgotten. Dan’s devotion to public service is a model for others to follow.”
Statements from Sen. Olympia Snowe, former Gov. John McKernan, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and members of the Maine Legislature remembered Gwadosky’s service, leadership and sense of humor.
Snowe and McKernan, in their joint statement, called Gwadosky a “truly an outstanding leader in Fairfield and in Maine.” Michaud echoed the sentiment, saying, “I always admired his dedication to those he served and his willingness to give up so much of himself to public service.”
Gwadosky earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and a Master’s degree in Computer Technology from Thomas College in Waterville and attended Lawrence High School in Fairfield. He is survived by his wife Cheryl and two children, Joshua and Jessica.