December 8, 2009 in City

Wood says he’ll retire at end of seventh term

By The Spokesman-Review

(Full-size photo)

State Rep. Alex Wood will retire after next year, the seven-term legislator told a group of Democrats on Monday.

Wood, who will turn 64 next month, hinted during last year’s campaign that this term would be his last in central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District. He expects a difficult session in 2010, with the state facing a shortfall of $2.6 billion for the remainder of the two-year budget cycle, but said he can look back on a long list of victories since taking office in 1997.

A former radio newscaster, Wood covered the announcement of the Riverpoint campus as a reporter, then went to the Legislature to work to find the money to build it. At the time, SIRTI, the technology institute, was the only facility on the land east of downtown across the Spokane River from Gonzaga University.

“It took two or three years just to save SIRTI,” Wood recalled Monday, and about three years to get the appropriations committees to consider the buildings that now make up a branch campus for Washington State and Eastern Washington universities.

He also recalled fighting for funding for the North Spokane Corridor.

For all of his tenure, the 3rd District ranked either the poorest or second-poorest district in Washington under some state benchmarks. Most of the others at the top of that list, he said, are other urban districts in downtown Seattle, Everett and Tacoma.

“We’ve got to reinvigorate the downtowns,” he said in an interview after his announcement at the Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Club.

Wood spent 18 years as a radio reporter and six as a talk show host before his 1996 election. He said he’d like to go back on the air after leaving the Legislature, but only after taking a break.

The announcement could set off a scramble in the Democratic stronghold. Andy Billig, president and part-owner of the Spokane Indians, has announced a campaign and Wood said he’s heard of three or four others considering a run.

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