Rep. Chris Johansen, R-Monticello, wears a face shield as he takes the oath of office at the Augusta Civic Center, Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020, in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

An Aroostook County lawmaker resigned from the Legislature earlier this month, citing a need to focus on his farm after his wife died of COVID-19 this summer.

Rep. Chris Johansen’s resignation was effective Nov. 19, according to a letter to Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, on that day.  The Monticello Republican said he was able to serve because his wife, Cindy Johansen, was dedicated to their farm before her August death.

“This is a difficult decision to make, as I feel there is still much to be done to roll back the expansion of state power that we have witnessed these past two years,” Johansen wrote. “But I must honor my obligations to my family and my animals.”

Cindy Johansen’s death was highly publicized after she and her husband were vocal critics of pandemic restrictions, vaccines and masking requirements on social media. Both were unvaccinated when they contracted the virus in mid-July. Cindy Johansen’s struggle with the virus was chronicled in a series of Facebook posts.

Johansen served three terms, the last of which was marked by his vocal opposition to state efforts aimed at containing the virus. He was one of seven lawmakers who refused to wear masks in the State House after Democrats required them. He cited that resistance in his resignation letter, saying it was a “distinct honor” to serve Aroostook County.