John Laird, former assemblyman, announces California Senate campaign

Former assemblyman and UC Santa Cruz environmental studies professor John Laird announced his candidacy for Senate today.

Laird, 60, a Democrat, is running for the 15th Senate District seat vacated by Abel Maldonado, who recently was appointed to lieutenant governor. Laird made the announcement this afternoon at Rio Del Mar State Beach in Aptos.

Laird vowed to help improve public education to a “prominence it once had,” as well as to create new jobs and better protect the environment by expanding green technology.

Local Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee announced his candidacy Friday.

As an assemblyman representing Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties from 2002 until 2008, Laird said the 82 bills he had signed into law are evidence of his ability to work in a bipartisan manner.

“The legislative gridlock over the budget has paralyzed state government and become a national embarrassment,” Laird said in a statement released from his speech today. “… The people have lost confidence in our government — and our state — and rightfully so.”