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Retirement creates opportunity in 3rd

Speculation that Rep. Alex Wood might retire after more than a decade representing central Spokane in the state House of Representatives sparked vast interest in the seat among Democrats.

After all, the 3rd Legislative District is Eastern Washington’s most reliably Democratic district.

Andy Billig, president of the Spokane Indians Baseball Club, got a head start, announcing his candidacy even before Wood announced his retirement late last year.

He faces two other prominent Democrats: longtime social worker and community activist Louise Chadez and Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple. Political newcomer Dave White, a Spokane County sewer inspector, is running as a Republican.

Billig has amassed a significant fundraising advantage, having raised nearly $75,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Chadez has raised about $18,000. Apple has about $7,000; White has raised about $4,000.

Chadez stresses her longevity in social work and education, arguing that her experience is most likely to help the people of the district, which often is labeled the state’s poorest. Apple notes his experience as an elected leader on the City Council and as a neighborhood activist. Billig points to his work running a business and says if elected he would work to win a seat on the Education Committee. White says he would bring fiscal responsibility.

Apple has been a maverick of sorts on the City Council and has taken some stances that are contrary to those of some Democrats – chief among them, he opposed a plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. His independence, however, has led to backing from some conservative leaders, including the vice president of the local tea party group. He’s also been the most vocal council member in favor of creating an independent police ombudsman.

Unlike the Republican running for the 3rd District’s other seat, White won an endorsement from the Spokane County Republican Party.

The job pays about $42,000 a year.