PD Editorial: Jim Wood is a good fit for the 2nd Assembly District seat

Sacramento, says Assemblyman Jim Wood, is filled with people dedicated to maintaining the status quo.

Name a problem, he says, and entrenched interests endeavor to derail practically any solution.

Wood, D-Santa Rosa, speaks from experience, having tackled some of California's most intractable issues during his three terms in the Legislature: health care, housing, insurance, utilities, water.

Despite the obstacles, Wood consistently delivers substantive legislation.

A hardworking legislator with experience in small business and local government, he's a good fit for the 2nd Assembly District, which stretches from Oakmont to the Oregon border. North Coast voters would be wise to send him back to Sacramento for a fourth term in 2020.

In an institution dominated by lawyers, Wood, a semi- retired dentist, is one of the chief architects of health policy.

As chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, he helped free Californians from surprise medical bills for out-of-network care and bring a degree of transparency to drug prices.

This year, despite stiff opposition from pharmaceutical companies, Wood succeeded in outlawing “pay to delay” agreements that inflate the of prescription medication artificially high by postponing the introduction of generic drugs. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that these anticompetitive deals cost consumers $3.5 billion a year.

To help alleviate a chronic shortage of primary care doctors, he is carrying legislation that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners. To succeed, he'll have to overcome objections from the California Medical Association, the lobbying organization for the state's physicians.

Wood's focus on health care doesn't come at the expense of other needs in his rural district.

He is working to expand access to high-speed internet access so students and businesses on the North Coast have the same opportunities as their urban peers.

And, as the assemblyman from the Emerald Triangle, he's committed to moving marijuana growers out of the black market and into the state's nascent legal cannabis industry and cleaning up environmental harm caused by rogue growers.

Since the Tubbs fire, which burned thousands of homes in his district, Wood has added wildfire prevention, homeowners insurance and utilities to his legislative portfolio.

In 2018, he secured $1 billion in state cap-and-trade money for vegetation management, and he's now looking to fund a revolving loan program to help homeowners in high-risk areas pay for fire-safety upgrades.

With insurers canceling thousands of homeowners policies in fire-prone areas, Wood is exploring ways to stabilize California's turbulent insurance market.

There is one other candidate on the ballot for the March 3 primary: Republican Charlotte Svolos of Crescent City. Sovolos, a special education teacher, ran for the state Senate seat from Los Angeles County in 2012 and 2016.

She didn't respond to several interview requests, and her only campaign presence to date appears to be a Twitter photo showing her pulling nomination papers. Perhaps she will roll out a legislative program before the March primary or during the general election, but the North Coast needs active, engaged representation in Sacramento. Jim Wood has provided that since 2015, and The Press Democrat recommends him in the 2nd Assembly District.

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