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Political Notebook

Central Coast

Democratic State Senate candidate John Laird has received endorsements from the state’s largest farm workers organization as well as a bevy of Central Coast educators, including state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who hails from San Luis Obispo.

Others backing Laird include San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker; San Luis Coastal school board members Ellen Sheffer, Chris Ungar and Ed Valentine; and Lucia Mar school board member Erik Howell.

Three Paso Robles school board members are also backing Laird: Jeanne Dugger, Tim Gearhart and Ruben F. Tate Jr.

Laird, whose parents were teachers, also has the backing of the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association, the California Faculty Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California State University Employees Union, CSUEU/SEIU Local 2579, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers and the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers.

Laird was a member of the board at Cabrillo College in Aptos, near Santa Cruz. United Farm Workers of America is also backing the Democrat.

Laird is running in a special election Tuesday to replace Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado in the 15th Senate District. His opponents are Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, Libertarian businessman Mark Hinkle of Morgan Hill and Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo, an American Independent Party member.

— Bob Cuddy

Central Coast

Democratic State Senate candidate John Laird said he has written legislation supporting the Williamson Act and “rejects any attempt on (Sam) Blakeslee’s part to be the Williamson Act champion in this race.”

Laird was reacting to the Farm Bureau’s endorsement of Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, in the race to replace Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado in the 15th Senate District, which encompasses much of the Central Coast.

A special election will be held Tuesday. Laird is also facing American Independent Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo and Libertarian Mark Hinkle of Morgan Hill.

The Williamson Act gives ranchers and farmers a tax break in return for a pledge not to develop their land for a specified period of time. It is a key law for rural counties, and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has fought Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent attempts to eliminate it.

In a news release, the Laird campaign said he authored AB 1492, which passed 77-0 in the Assembly and was signed by the governor. It updated the Williamson Act.

Laird also “did a subsequent bill, AB 2921, which passed in the Assembly 75-0, including a yes vote from Blakeslee,” his campaign wrote in a news release. The bill’s sponsors were the state Farm Bureau and the Sierra Club, according to the release.

— Bob Cuddy

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