Incumbent Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, and challenger Charlotte Svolos, R-Crescent City, are running for the District 2 Assembly seat on Nov. 3 to represent all of Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties plus northern and coastal portions of Sonoma County in the state Legislature for the next two-year term.
Wood led by a wide margin in the March primary, receiving 70.8 percent of votes cast to Svolos’ 29.2 percent, however Svolos led on her home turf of Del Norte County and the vote was close in Trinity County that gave 51.5 percent of its votes to Wood and 48.5 percent to Svolos.
The two are appearing again on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Wood said if he is re-elected to a fourth term, he will continue working on issues near and dear to him, including health care and fire prevention. California Assembly terms are limited to a lifetime maximum of 12 years.
Wood has called Northern California his home since 1987 when he opened his family dental practice in Cloverdale. He began a career in public service in 2007 when elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2006, serving two terms as mayor. He focused on balancing the budget, environmental and health issues and streamlining the building permit process.
Once elected to the Assembly in 2014, his priorities were and have remained environmental protection, economic development and health care. He has chaired the Assembly Health Committee since early 2016.
He cites successes in passing legislation to protect and expand access to medical, dental and mental health care in rural areas; making progress to reduce the cost of prescription drugs; protecting residents of nursing homes from closures; preventing patients from surprise medical bills; increasing the age to 21 for purchasing tobacco products; and beginning the process of identifying how California can provide health care to all.
Following the devastating wildfires of 2017, he has worked to achieve bipartisan support to obtain $1 billion for vegetation management to help prevent wildland fires and passed legislation to protect consumers from price gouging following declared disasters. A top priority in 2019 was to help facilitate the rebuilding of homes and businesses following two more devastating fire years, providing incentives for homeowners to ‘harden’ their homes against wildfire and improve vegetation management.
Wood has also focused on cannabis industry impacts and needs, obtaining funding to clean up environmental damage from illegal grows and helping to develop medical cannabis regulations to protect small farmers and ensure that rules and licensing processes are accessible to small businesses.
In addition to his work in the Legislature, Wood serves as a forensic dentistry expert consultant for five Northern California counties, establishing a mass disaster identification team in California and passing legislation to standardize identification procedures. He has used his expertise to assist in many disasters including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Valley fire in Lake County and other deadly wildfires in Northern California.
He currently chairs the Assembly Health Committee and Select Committee on Craft Brewing and Distilling while also serving on several others including Budget; Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; Water, Parks, and Wildlife; and Joint Legislative Audit.
His Republican challenger lives and works in Crescent City as a special education teacher, moving there four years ago from Torrance where she also taught special ed for the Torrance Unified School District. She has a master’s degree in special education and teaching, and a bachelor’s in psychology, all from California State University at Dominguez Hills.
She said she is seeking public office to “give back” to her community and believes there are common sense solutions if people will talk about doing what is best for their communities.
On her campaign website, she said, “We need to stop arguing and begin to get something done to improve the problems we all face together.” She pledged to listen to any concern from a member of the public and consider all sides of an issue before making a decision.
“If elected, I will work for you the people, not the interests of lobbyists and other politicians,” she said.
Svolos is an organizing member and treasurer for the Del Norte Teachers-Executive Board and served four years writing policy in the state’s Early Childhood Education Committee for the California Teachers Association and defended “common sense gun control” which she said is supported by the NRA.
She is a member of the California Teachers Association State Council; Republican Central Committee-secretary and bylaw chair.
Svolos said she is a regular contributor to Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, St. Jude’s, Special Olympics and other organizations.