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John F. Wood Jr. (D), who has represented northern St. Mary’s County in Maryland’s House of Delegates for nearly three decades, announced that he will not seek re-election this year.

“I just think it’s time,” he said Monday after releasing a statement saying that the legislative session starting today, Jan. 8, in Annapolis would be his last.

Wood, who will turn 78 on Jan. 13, said he is looking forward to spending time with his wife, Barbara, and their ever-growing family, which includes nine children, 26 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

The Mechanicsville Democrat is a partner with Cross and Wood Insurance Brokers, from which he is already “semi-retired,” he said.

Wood graduated from the Charlotte Hall School in 1955 and then spent about a decade in the Army National Guard. He worked in his family’s grocery business for some 40 years, he said.

In 1986 he won election to the state’s House of Delegates, representing northern St. Mary’s and a small portion of southern Charles County. During the next six elections he faced challengers from both his own party and the Republicans, but prevailed each time.

However, during that time Maryland began a distinct shift to the left, Wood said, a change that often distanced him from his own party.

“It’s a hell of a lot different then it was when I first ran,” Wood said. “We’ve gone to the left too far.”

That liberal lean did not appeal to Wood.

“It’s another one of the moderate-to-conservative voices in the Democratic party gone,” Sen. Roy Dyson (D-St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles) said.

Dyson said conservative voices are needed in Annapolis to help keep balance. “Johnny did that and he did it very well,” he said.

“He’ll be going out very proud of his record and he can hold his head high,” Dyson said.

Wood has served as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, vice chair of the Public Safety and Administration Subcommittee, a member of the Transportation and the Environment Subcommittee, Legislative Policy Committee and other positions during his tenure.

He said he never blindly followed his party’s line, but instead voted how his constituents felt.

“If I thought it was good for the people, then I supported it,” Wood said, adding that he especially pushed funding for education and roads.

He wasn’t known for introducing new legislation — he said he would put in one or two bills at the most each session.

As of press time Tuesday, no one had filed as a Democrat for the District 29A House seat. Wood said he has not heard of any Democrat yet who plans to run for District 29A, “but I’m sure they’ll come out of the woodwork now ... I hope whoever it is feels the same way about the state and the county as I do.”

But two Republicans have already declared their candidacy. Matt Morgan, 40, and Bryan “Puff” Barthelme, 62, both of Mechanicsville, have filed and will face each other in the GOP primary election on June 24.

Legislative district lines were redrawn after the 2010 census and a small section of Charles County was eliminated from District 29A. The new district boundaries will go into effect for the first time during this year’s elections.

The filing deadline for candidates is Feb. 25.

“We conservatives are a dying breed,” John Parlett Jr. said.

Parlett, who at one time considered running for delegate but said this week that he is not interested now, said that Wood did a good job representing his constituents.

“He’s always kept the needs of our district first in his mind,” Parlett said.