Statesman Joe Brannigan passed away last night from cancer.
"Joe Brannigan touched thousands of lives through his work and commitment at the Shalom House and his public service in the Legislature,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, who served with Brannigan in the 124th and 125th Legislatures. “Joe's sharp wit made him a tremendous leader and we will miss him."
Brannigan served 28 years in the Maine State Legislature: seven terms in the Maine House from (1979-1986, 2001-2006) and seven terms in the Maine Senate (1987-1994, 2007-2012). During his time in Augusta he served on ten committee, most notably, on the state’s budget writing committee, Health and Human Services, Insurance and Financial Services, and State and Local Government.
“Joe’s compassion was legendary. He was a tireless advocate and he meant so much to all of us,” said Senator Anne Haskell, who has known Brannigan for more than 20 years and is the current State Senator for Brannigan’s district. “Joe was more than a mentor. He was a great friend and a neighbor. I will miss him and his quiet way with words.”
During his time in the Legislature, Brannigan led the way on issues such as access to mental health services, expanding health insurance to low income Mainers, bail reform, and strengthening Maine’s Lemon law.
In 2010, Brannigan retired from 34 years of service as the Executive Director of the Shalom House, a housing and mental health program for adults with severe mental illness.
"Joe Brannigan was a true statesman, bringing determination, compassion and dignity to public life," said Phil Bartlett, chair of the Maine Democratic Party. "I had the honor of serving with Senator Brannigan, and will always remember his ability to lessen the tension of heated debates with a shared moment of laughter. Joe had great respect for our public institutions and was equally committed to changing policies and practices to best meet the needs of our state. We will miss him greatly, and forever remember the valuable contributions he made during his years of public service."
Brannigan is survived by his son and his wife, Claire. he has one son.