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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election

California State SenateCandidate for District 17

Photo of John Laird

John Laird

Natural Resources Secretary
320,090 votes (64.7%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Keep up the fight to address the changing climate. Even though California is ahead of all states on both emissions reduction and adaptation, we are behind on doing what we must do.
  • Provide health care to all. Given the federal assault on health care, we have to protect those Californians who recently secured health coverage as we work to make sure everyone is covered.
  • Provide adequate support for education. We have to continue to protect K-14, as well as our higher education systems – and work to reduce financial barriers for students.



Profession:Former CA Nat. Res. Secretary, Assemblymember
Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency - Appointed Position, State of California (2011–2019)
Assemblymember, California State Assembly District 27 - Elected Position, State of California (2002–2008)
Santa Cruz City Council - Elected Position, City of Santa Cruz (1981–1990)
Mayor, City of Santa Cruz (1987–1988)
Mayor, City of Santa Cruz (1983–1984)


Adlai E. Stevenson College, University of California, Santa Cruz Bachelor of Arts, politics (1972)


John Laird served as California Secretary for Natural Resources by Governor Jerry Brown from January 5, 2011 until January 7, 2019. Laird also served as a member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board from 2008 to 2009 and taught state environmental policy at University of California Santa Cruz. In 2002, he was elected Assemblymember for the 27th District, which included portions of Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties, and reelected in 2004 and 2006. While serving the maximum three terms in the Assembly, Laird authored 82 bills that were signed into law. 


Prior to serving in the State Assembly, Laird was an elected member of the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2002. He also served as executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project from 1991 to 1994. 


In 1981, Laird was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council, and served nine years until term limits ended his council service in 1990. He was a two-term mayor from 1983 to 1984 and from 1987 to 1988.


The son of teachers and raised in Vallejo, Laird graduated with honors in politics from the University of California – Santa Cruz in 1972. He has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores. He has traveled extensively, is fluent in Spanish, enjoys conducting family history research, and is a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $1,218,252

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

California Association of Realtors
California Faculty Association
California Federation of Teachers
California Labor Federation
California State Association of Electrical Workers
California State Council of Laborers
California Teachers Association
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council
SEIU California
State Building & Construction Trades Council of California

More information about contributions

By State:

California 88.92%
District of Columbia 2.46%
Texas 1.56%
Washington 1.11%
Other 5.94%

By Size:

Large contributions (97.91%)
Small contributions (2.09%)

By Type:

From organizations (76.71%)
From individuals (23.29%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I’m running for the State Senate because I want to build on that leadership to protect and invest in the Central Coast and California during these difficult times – not just in the area of natural resources, but also with critical priorities including health care, education, the economy and housing.  


Specifically, I pledge to work on major challenges including: the impact of a changing climate on California; affordability for the middle class; providing health care to all; providing adequate support for education; adequate and affordable housing; wild fires as California’s “new normal”; protecting California’s leadership in ocean policy; embracing and protecting California’s diversity; and fighting for the needs of the Central Coast. 


The impact of a changing climate on California.

We have no time to spare in lowering our carbon emissions and in readying our state for the effects that will happen because of the carbon emitted already.


Affordability for the middle class in California.

Whether it’s affording housing, higher education, transportation or the standard of living – California has become difficult to afford for the middle class. This is a daunting challenge, but one that we must address. The state has enacted a higher minimum wage and we must see through its implementation.


Providing health care to all.

While in the legislature I co-authored single payer health care and was the advocate for health coverage for all children. Given the federal assault on health care, we have to protect those Californians who recently secured health coverage as we work to make sure everyone is covered.


Providing adequate support for education.

In my past legislative service, I helped fight off attempts to weaken financial protections for K-14 education. We have to continue to protect K-14, as well as our higher education systems – and work to reduce financial barriers for students.


Adequate and affordable housing in California.

I worked on the 2006 affordable housing bond and am glad voters approved another bond last November. The legislature must do more to partner with local government, housing non-profits and the private sector to provide more affordable housing.


Wild fires as California’s “new normal.”

A majority of the biggest fires in California history have happened since 2000. Santa Rosa, Redding and Paradise have been devastated in just the last year and a half. Leadership will be needed to take necessary steps to be ready for this “new normal.”


Protecting California’s leadership in ocean policy.

I was honored to head California’s oceans program, which produced the most recent science on sea level rise and the largest network of marine protected areas off the continental U.S. The program also joined Washington and Oregon to organize nations across the globe to fight acidification. I vow to help continue that leadership.


Appreciating and protecting California’s diversity.

As one of the first openly gay Mayors in America, I have always appreciated the recognition of different voices in building a successful state. Our diversity is a strength and we must work together to protect the rights of all.


The needs of the Central Coast.

Our local area has a large number of state parks, major transportation corridors, higher education campuses, agricultural production centers, and satellite facilities of Silicon Valley-based industries. I pledge to work with local officials to meet the needs of these local stakeholders.


I have worked the last 40 years to be ready for the next eight as a senator. I’ve served in public policy, as a congressional assistant, local government analyst, mayor, city councilmember, transit board member, transportation commissioner, community college trustee, community activist, state legislator and governor’s cabinet secretary. I want to bring that experience and leadership to meet our challenges.

Videos (1)

— February 19, 2020 John Laird for Senate 2020, ID #1414892

We live in a beautiful place, but we can’t take this beauty for granted. I’m ready to put my years of experience to work for you.

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