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Name: Laird, John
Current Position: Secretary

When the state Senate voted to confirm John Laird as secretary for Natural Resources in March 2011, the vote was unanimous. In his 35 years in public service in California, including 23 years as an elected official, Laird had established a reputation as committed to natural resource conservation and dedicated at working with both political parties to reach solutions.

Raised in Vallejo as the son of teachers, Laird graduated with a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1972. He served on the district staff of Rep. Jerome Waldie and as a budget analyst for the Santa Cruz County Administrator.

In 1981, Laird was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council and served nine years until term limits forced him out in 1990. He was a two-term mayor from 1983-1984 and from 1987-1988 and served as a board member for local transit, transportation, water planning and regional government agencies. Laird was the executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project from 1991-1994 and a member of the Cabrillo College board of trustees from 1994-2002.

In 2002, Laird was elected to represent the 27th Assembly District in the California Assembly, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties. He was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2006, when he received more than 70% of the vote. At the beginning of his second term, Laird joined the Assembly leadership team when Speaker Fabian Nuñez named him chair of the Budget Committee, a position to which he was reappointed by Speaker Karen Bass. In 2008, Laird, a Democrat, lost a Senate bid against Republican Sam Blakeslee.

While serving the maximum three terms in the Assembly, Laird authored 82 bills signed into law, including ones that established the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, restored community college health services, expanded and clarified state civil rights protections, reformed the state mandates system and significantly expanded water conservation.  During his time in the Assembly, Laird received a 100% score from the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) and Sierra Club California for his votes on environmental issues.

In its 2008 Environmental Scorecard, CLCV called Laird “the highest-ranking voice for the environment in the inner circle of leadership, the trusted and respected chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, and a dedicated friend and mentor to environmental advocates.”

Laird was a member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board from 2008-2009 and taught state environmental policy at University of California, Santa Cruz before his appointment as secretary.

Laird was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as secretary for Natural Resources and confirmed on a 35-0 vote by the state Senate. The position is part of the governor’s Cabinet and carries an annual compensation of $175,000.

After Laird’s confirmation, Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg said: “I can think of nobody better qualified than John Laird to be the Secretary for Natural Resources for the state of California. His depth of knowledge and commitment to issues like water, ocean protection, renewable energy and thoughtful conservation is second to none. John has earned bipartisan support for his appointment because he approaches issues with an open mind and has a pragmatic, solutions-based approach.”

Laird has been a longtime 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 lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.


State Senate Confirms John Laird as Secretary for Natural Resources  (Natural Resources Agency website) (pdf)

Governor Jerry Brown Appoints John Laird to Natural Resources Agency (by Jenesse Miller, GreenGov)

Governor Brown Announces Appointments (State of California website)

John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources (Natural Resources Agency website)

John Laird Stops Clicking “Refresh,” Goes to Work (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

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