Max Coll, a state representative who served for 32 years, including the Santa Fe area for 24 years, died Thursday night from complications after suffering a stroke last week.
Coll, 82, was known in the Legislature for both his fiscal conservatism when it came to budgets as well as his allegiance to liberal issues like environmental rights and universal health care.
He began serving in the state legislature in 1966 as a conservative Republican representing the Roswell area. His first campaign focused on fiscal issues like "end[ing] sales tax on doctor bills, dentist bills, hospital costs, nursing and medical costs."
But he left the Legislature in 1974 to finish law school. Six years later, Coll moved to Santa Fe and was again elected to the state House of Representatives. In 1983, he switched party affiliations to Democrat and continued to work on key fiscal issues as chair the House Appropriations and Finance Committee and a member of the Legislative Finance Committee.
But Coll was also known for his fierce environmentalism and advocacy for single-payer health care, the latter of which he sponsored in a failed bill in 1993 with state Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, D-Santa Fe.
Coll retired from representing his district in 2004, which has since been represented by Democrats Peter Wirth, now a state Senator, and currently Brian Egolf.
Shortly after Coll's retirement, political reporter Larry Calloway wrote that Coll was a "perfect fit" as an environmentalist and "master of state finances" for a House District that includes a mix well-to-do retirees and middle-class state employees "concerned about government and the state budget."
"Max never did have a close election, D or R," Calloway wrote. "Even the year when his enemies launched a brutal and well-funded attack campaign, he won by a ton."
Last year, Coll was honored in a House Memorial that praised him as "a force of reason, of fiscal stability and integrity in our Legislature and he has been a continuous source of strength, of kindness and of thoughtfulness, making a difference in countless lives along the way."
Amid news of his death Thursday night, former colleagues and admirers began paying tribute to Coll on social media: