Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, announced Wednesday that he is resigning to focus on his family, his job and his battle with alcohol abuse.

Dutremble announced that he will step down on Thursday. He had previously announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election, citing his difficulty balancing work and politics.

“It is true that the demands of my work and the Legislature were not sustainable right now,” Dutremble said in a statement issued Wednesday. “But what is also true is that I have been battling alcohol abuse. For those who are close to me, they know that I thought this was a demon I could fight alone – and one that I could do with a ‘business as usual’ approach.”

On Jan. 14, Dutremble announced on Facebook that he would not seek re-election to the Senate, saying his work schedule with the Biddeford Fire Department, his growing electrical business and the Legislature was not sustainable.

“When your 6-year-old daughter tells people, ‘My daddy lives in Augusta’ it becomes time to re-evaluate things,” he said.

In response to written questions, Dutremble said Wednesday that he is still working out the details of whatever treatment he will seek.

“My current plan is to continue to work as a firefighter,” he wrote. “I don’t have a problem attending work drunk or drinking at work, my issue is when I am out (socially) I can’t stop at one or two. I have beer in my house that I hardly ever drink.”

WILLING TO FACE CHALLENGES

He said his wife has been concerned about him for some time.

“It’s a decision I made with her support. My family from all angles are very supportive,” he wrote.

People who have served with Dutremble in the Legislature reacted to the news with surprise and support Wednesday.

Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, co-chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, on which Dutremble serves, said that if Dutremble has a problem with alcohol, it didn’t show in his legislative work.

“I never detected anything wrong,” said Davis, who added that he also interacted well with Dutremble when the Democrat co-chaired the committee in the previous Legislature. “I do tip my hat to him. … Apparently he does feel he has an issue and he’s willing to stand up and take care of it.”

Alan Casavant, mayor of Biddeford, served alongside Dutremble on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the 126th Legislature.

“I was totally impressed that he was willing to publicly take that stance, but that doesn’t surprise me because he’s always willing to face any challenge,” Casavant said of Dutremble’s announcement. “He was always about family anyway. I understood his rationale for stepping back and trying to get his life in order.”

Former Democratic Sen. Emily Cain served with Dutremble when they were both freshmen senators elected in 2012, and said he is a passionate voice for working-class families.

“It takes a lot of courage to speak publicly about that kind of personal challenge,” she said. “I just hope he’s able to find the support he needs, and I look forward to supporting him in any way I can.”

SETTING GOOD EXAMPLE

Shortly after he was elected to the state Senate in 2012, Dutremble helped advance a review of the state’s guardian ad litem program, the system through which guardians are appointed to represent the interests of children, usually in family matters.

In 2013, someone shot a paintball at a second-floor window in his home on Elm Street the day after he cast the tie-breaking vote in committee to limit gun magazines in Maine to 10 rounds.

Dr. Mary Dowd, medical director for the Milestone Foundation, who also works with Catholic Charities and Discovery House, called Dutremble’s public declaration of his alcohol problem “heroic.”

“I think it’s really good because so many people do not admit to alcohol abuse or problems with alcohol,” Dowd said. “I think it’s a good example for him to be doing that, bringing it out into the open.”

Many people who have alcohol-abuse disorders are able to function without their problem being apparent, she said.

Excessive workload can contribute to someone abusing alcohol, Dowd said.

“Alcohol is certainly a ready cure for anxiety and stress, and people turn to it rather than figuring out other ways to address that,” she said.

Dutremble’s seat will need to be filled temporarily through a special election. Gov. Paul LePage will set the date through a proclamation. Parties will then caucus to present their nominees.

Joanne Twomey, a former state representative and Biddeford mayor, has announced she will run for the Senate seat, which represents Arundel, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and part of Biddeford.

 


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