Derek Langhauser, the top lawyer to Gov. Janet Mills, shakes hands with then-University of Maine System Chancellor James Page in this 2015 file photo. Credit: Nick McCrea | BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills’ top lawyer will leave the administration at the end of the month and will be replaced by Maine’s environmental protection commissioner, her office announced Friday.

Derek Langhauser will be leaving his post to spend more time with family, according to a press release. He has worked for the Democratic governor since she assumed office in early 2019 and is the first high-profile aide to leave the administration during her young tenure.

A veteran of government branches, Langhauser worked for former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe for 14 years and former Gov. John McKernan, Snowe’s husband, for four years. He led the Maine Community College System for four years prior to joining Mills’ administration.

He has negotiated for Mills on tricky pieces of legislation, including a compromise over a “red flag” bill during last year’s session that was ultimately revised to allow police to take a person’s firearms temporarily if the person is deemed by a medical professional to have a mental illness that could cause harm.

Sen. Michael Carpenter, D-Houlton, said Langhauser was “excellent to work with” in those negotiations, saying he did heavy research on similar bills across the country. The two met when Carpenter was attorney general in the 1990s. Carpenter said he learned of his pending departure yesterday.

“He is one of the best people I ever worked with in terms of honesty and integrity,” he said.

Langhauser will be replaced by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Jerry Reid, who previously led the natural resources division in the attorney general’s office under Mills. Deputy Commissioner Melanie Loyzim will be elevated to acting commissioner.

Reid’s nomination to commissioner was opposed by the Maine tribes and some progressives due to his prior role in lawsuits involving water quality standards. That acrimony may have lessened after Mills and the Penobscot Nation reached an agreement over a water quality bill last year, but the governor and tribes are still at loggerheads over a sovereignty measure.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the year Mills took office. It was 2019.