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LWV League of Women Voters of California
Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz Counties, CA March 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for John Laird

Candidate for
Member; California State Assembly; District 27; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate

Biography of John Laird, Candidate for the 27th Assembly District

An environmentalist, education advocate, and civil rights activist with 16 years of service as a Mayor, City Councilmember, and College Board Trustee, John Laird knows and understands the issues confronting the residents of the 27th Assembly District.

An Experienced Leader

First elected to the Santa Cruz City Council in 1981 and re-elected in 1985, John was the top vote getter in both elections. In 1983, John was elected by the Council to serve as Mayor, earning the distinction of being among the first openly gay mayors in the United States. John was again chosen as Mayor in 1987 for a second one-year term and continued to serve on the Council until 1990 when he was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.

On the City Council and as Mayor, John focused on environmental issues, as a leader against offshore oil drilling along the Monterey/Santa Cruz coast and for a successful ballot measure against drilling. He successfully fought for open space preservation and the creation of the largest national marine sanctuary in the Monterey Bay region. He has been, and continues to be, an outspoken advocate for living wage and while on the council, was instrumental in winning agency shop provisions for Santa Cruz city employees.

While in office John's leadership and keen understanding of detailed policy earned him numerous governmental appointments. He was a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Outer Continental Shelf activities, on the board of the California League of Cities, President of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, Chair of the Board of the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, Chair of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission, Chair of the Water Planning Joint Powers Board, Chair of the Library Oversight Committee, Chair of the Mayor's Selection Committee, and Chair of the City's Redevelopment Agency.

John has a long history on water issues - from his honors thesis in college on the history of water development in California, through his service on the congressional staff of Rep. Jerome Waldie, to his service as chair of the joint powers board overseeing a regional water supply and demand study. Today, he continues to be active on water issues as chair of the local Sierra Club Water Resources Committee.

Since 1994, he has served on the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees. As Board Chair in 1998, he was a leader in a $85 million countywide bond campaign. The measure passed with 74% of the vote. He was also a member of the Community College League Legislative Committee carrying his concern about adequate resources for community college education to the state level.

A Community Activist

A nationally recognized civil rights pioneer and active member of the Santa Cruz community for over three decades, John has served as Vice-Chair of the City Charter Review Committee, as a founder of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, and as a three-year board member of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce. He is also active on numerous community boards, including those dealing with seniors, childcare, civil liberties, and people with disabilities. Presently, John is a member of the Board of the Cabrillo College Foundation, and President-elect of the UCSC Alumni Association.

John has worked in every aspect of Democratic politics including, as a six-time delegate to Democratic national conventions, a twenty-year member of the state Democratic Central Committee, a member of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Electoral Colleges, Chair of both County-wide Democratic campaigns and the County Democratic Committee (1994-98), and President of the Peoples Democratic Club. One of the political efforts of which he is most proud was as an early volunteer in Leon Panetta's first congressional campaign.

John has been active with the lesbian and gay community, as a columnist for the Lavender Reader, a commentator on "Closet Free Radio", a founding member of the International Network of Gay and Lesbian Officials, and was an original board member of BAYMEC, the gay and lesbian political action committee for San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, and Santa Cruz Counties. Currently, John serves on the Santa Cruz Community Foundation's Advisory Committee for the Lesbian and Gay Grants Partnership.

John was a founding board member of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project in 1985, served as the agency's executive director for three years, and rejoined the AIDS Project Board in 1996, serving for eighteen months. He has served on the local Ryan White Consortium board and was the coordinator of a national AIDS on-line network for HandsNet.

John was a regular editorial page columnist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, currently a regular columnist for the "Student Guide", and for the past five years has hosted a weekly public affairs show "Talk of the Bay" -- on KUSP radio, the local National Public Radio affiliate.

Personal Story in Brief

Born in Santa Rosa, California and raised in nearby Vallejo, John graduated from Adlai Stevenson College (University of California, Santa Cruz) in 1972 with a BA in Politics, earning honors in politics, general college honors, and honors for his thesis.

Following graduation, John served for two years on the district staff of then-Representative Jerry Waldie, and worked during the summer of 1974 for then-Rep. Bill Gunter of Florida in his run for the U.S. Senate. He joined the staff of the Santa Cruz County Administrator in 1974 and later served in the personnel and social services departments. He is currently a manager for the County Personnel Department.

John lives on the westside of Santa Cruz with his partner John Flores. He is fluent in Spanish, has traveled widely, and is a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.

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