Radio reporter and talk show host Alex Wood will trade years on the airwaves for months on the campaign trail today when he announces a run for the Legislature.
Wood, 50, said Wednesday he hopes to use his skills as a communicator and mediator honed at the microphone of his radio call-in show. He’ll run as a Democrat in north Spokane’s 3rd District, and won’t shy from the label of liberal.
“I do see a lot of things on the Republican side I can agree with,” he said. “Compromise is not a dirty word and liberal is not a dirty word.”
Wood said he would push for a compromise on welfare reform, a key issue in the district that is the state’s most dependent on public assistance. Republicans want time limits, he said. Democrats might agree to that in exchange for better job training and child care to help welfare recipients work their way off public aid.
“I think the 3rd District knows that a safety net needs to be there,” he said.
If welfare reform costs more money - and what Wood suggests almost certainly would - voters would be asked to approve any tax increase. He believes they would say yes to a system that was tested, if they have information on their choices.
He would try to turn back the clock on health care reform, to revive the major overhaul of medical coverage that Gov. Mike Lowry and a Democratic Legislature approved in 1994.
That reform was among the nation’s most sweeping, and included a timetable that required most businesses to offer health insurance to their employees by the year 2000. Republicans who won the election later that year forced Lowry to drop many of those provisions.
Wood argues the original plan was a good one that “never got a chance. The Legislature just caved in.”
When he announces his candidacy this afternoon, Wood won’t be able to say with certainty which seat he will seek.
He will run for the House if - as many Democrats expect - two-term Rep. Lisa Brown runs for the seat held by Republican Sen. John Moyer.
Brown said recently she won’t decide whether to run for the Senate or seek re-election for several weeks.
If Brown decides to seek reelection, Wood said he will challenge Moyer.
Becoming a candidate forces Wood off the air and out of a job, at least through the campaign. He said he will live off his savings temporarily and seek a part-time job through the election. If he wins, he might try to find a way to get back behind the microphone when the Legislature is not in session.
He’d like to do a talk show that discusses government policies and programs.
“I think the Legislature needs to do more by education and less by legislation,” he said.
During a break before his last radio shift, Wood said he has become increasingly frustrated with journalism in the last few years. Radio and television news, in particular, have spent less time reporting solutions and more time highlighting problems, he said.
A Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, Wood came to Spokane in 1977, and has worked for several radio stations. He began working at KXLY radio in 1988, and has hosted a talk show since 1991.
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