September 1, 2010

Wood says he’ll stay in Annapolis until his constituents tell him to go

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By Megan Poinski
Megan@MarylandReporter.com

After 24 years in the House of Delegates, Johnny Wood feels it still isn’t time for him to go.

Wood said that has a lot to do with his constituents from District 29A in Charles and St. Mary’s counties.

“I said many years ago that when the people say, ‘John, you’ve been there too long. You’ve done your job. We will not vote for you,’ then it is time for me to go,” Wood said. “The people will tell you when it’s time to go.”

It doesn’t look like Wood will be going anytime soon. As the only Democrat running to represent District 29A, he is guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot. Wood said he wants a seventh term in office to keep doing the work he has started for the people of his district.

He first got interested in state politics in the 1970s, working with his family’s grocery business. He started working with policymakers in Annapolis on food industry issues. He was encouraged to run to fill a vacancy left by a retiring legislator in 1986.

“I thought maybe it was time for me to take a break and do something else,” Wood said.

Wood doesn’t sponsor many bills. He said that there is already a lot of legislation on the books now, and the best function of the General Assembly is to clean up the laws that already exist.

Wood said helping constituents navigate their way through issues on the state level is the accomplishment he takes the most pride in.

The way lawmakers work together in Annapolis has changed dramatically since he first came to office, the delegate said. Two decades ago, legislators were much more willing to step across the aisle and work with their colleagues from the other political party.

“We all worked to make things better for the people, and I think we did a great job,” Wood said.

Every year, he sees the state getting more partisan. While Wood has remained a Democrat, he has moved more toward the Republicans on some votes and issues – and has even been invited to join the other party.

Straying from the party line has cost Wood through the years. He once held leadership positions – serving as the chairman of the Commerce and Government Matters Committee, and then chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review. In the last General Assembly, Wood held no leadership roles. He said he’s OK with that because he stuck to his personal beliefs.

“You can’t sell your soul,” he said.

Wood said his work back home with his constituents is the reason he keeps getting re-elected.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy it,” Wood said. “Do I enjoy all of it? No. Do I enjoy where things are going now? No. But I am in a position where I have been around long enough, where I have gotten to know a lot of people. And they all know what my game is: to work for the people.”