Portland’s top attorney to step down

Gary Wood, who has led the city of Portland’s legal team for two decades, announced he will retire from the job Sept. 14. Wood was hired in 1991, and plans to spend more time in the Maine outdoors in his retirement, an announcement from City Hall issued this afternoon said.

Gary Wood

Stated Wood:

The range of issues that come through my office every minute of every day, combined with the city itself make this job the best job that a municipal attorney can have in Maine and I suspect — the entire country. To get to address so many different issues with so many different people from so many walks of life has truly been a moveable feast. I want to thank everyone I have worked with for making this job so enjoyable.

Wood said his top achievement leading Portland’s attorneys was the passage of the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, which he is credited with helping draft and legally defend. Today’s city announcement describes the city ordinance, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, as a key precursor to a similar law later passed by the state.

Here’s what Wood had to say about that ordinance:

The night the City Council passed the Human Rights Ordinance remains the most memorable night in my entire career. The sense of impending freedom permeated the audience and the council. After the vote, there was a palpable lifting of the spirit throughout the city that has remained to this day.

Wood is also credited in today’s City Hall announcement as helping guide the development of Hadlock Field and attraction of the Portland Sea Dogs, the city’s Double-A professional baseball team, as well as navigating constitutional law to help devise the city’s response to OccupyMaine, which took the city to court for the right to remained camped out in the city-owned Lincoln Park.

Mayor Michael Brennan and the City Council are slated to develop a transition plan and nationwide search for Wood’s replacement in the coming months, according to the city.

Here’s Brennan’s statement on Wood’s departure:

Gary has been an invaluable asset to the City Council, staff and the community at-large. His distinguished career speaks to his commitment to the city and the community. Whether advising the Council’s Legislative Committee or defending a controversial city policy, Gary has risen to meet challenge after challenge. Outside of my current role, Gary was a tremendous advocate for the citizens of Portland in Augusta and incredibly helpful to those of us representing the community in the Maine Legislature. I hope the community can join me in thanking him for his service and wishing him a long, happy and healthy retirement.

If you’re scoring at home, over the past 14 months or so, Portland has seen newcomers — or will soon see newcomers — at city manager, clerk, mayor, superintendent of schools, police chief, fire chief, director of planning, attorney, assistant city manager, and director of planning and urban development… I think that covers it. Let me know if I left something out.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.