By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Jim Wood’s term as mayor of Healdsburg will also be his final year on the City Council.
Wood, who takes over the mayor’s gavel in January, is running for State Assembly. But even if he isn’t elected to higher office, he won’t be trying for a third, four-year term on the council.
“Whether I’m elected to the Assembly or not, my plan is not to run for City Council,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute. For me to be effective, I’d need a year away to freshen up my brain,” he said.
It was Wood who this year urged his fellow council members to launch a community self-analysis to ascertain Healdsburg’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The council agreed to hire a consultant for $25,000 to help probe those topics in a series of workshops with citizens and city officials.
“We’re engaging the public and trying to understand what their concerns are for the city,” he said. “I hope in the end we have a strategic plan that future councils can use as a framework and go forward.”
The consultant was hired before a debate grew about the role of tourism and whether the city needs to put restrictions on the size of new hotels to try and protect its small-town ambience.
The topic came front and center last summer after a 75-room, five-story hotel was proposed just south of Healdsburg Plaza.
The overriding reaction from many people was that it was too big, and the developers ended up withdrawing their application.
“I think tourism has done incredible wonderful things for our community,” said Wood, reflecting the prevailing sentiment of fellow council members, who say the bed taxes and other revenues it brings help bolster city recreation programs and other services.
Healdsburg is considered by some to be in an enviable position for its reputation as a chic Wine Country destination and for top restaurants in an attractive setting.
“I’m not anti-tourism,” said Wood, adding “what other opportunities are there that might allow us to supplement — add to the business mix, allow us to diversify?”
He said Healdsburg, like other cities, wants to attract “small, clean high-tech business to the community,” but especially so that it’s not totally reliant on the tourist trade.
Wood, 53, expects to be very busy in 2014. He’s given up his longtime dentistry practice in Cloverdale but continues doing forensic dentistry, helping to identify human remains through dental records.
As one of about 100 people nationwide with the highest certification for such work, he lectures and educates fellow dentists.
It’s grimy work at times, he says, but it’s rewarding to bring closure to families who have lost loved ones.
And he’s also running for the Assembly seat being vacated by the termed-out Wes Chesbro. Wood is considered a favorite in the race but maintains he is taking nothing for granted.
“My duty first and foremost is to the city, my elected position. I will do everything I can to be as effective, responsible and available, as every mayor should be,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.