Alumni associations name Laird Legislator of the Year

UC Santa Cruz alumnus John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, was named Legislator of the Year by the Alumni Associations of University of California.

Laird, a 1972 graduate of Stevenson College, was selected as Legislator of the Year for the Assembly. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, was selected for the Senate. Chancellor George Blumenthal and UC President Bob Dynes presented Laird with his award March 4 during a reception at UC Day in Sacramento.

Blumenthal noted that Laird is an "idealist," and said he had a difficult time reconciling Laird's idealism with his position as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee until he remembered that Laird is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.

Laird previously served as a Santa Cruz City Council member and Cabrillo College Board member. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2002. He said he's proud that he captures a strong majority among both city and campus voters, a testament to his efforts to strengthen the town-gown relationship.

Former UC State Governmental Relations Director Steve Arditti said Laird has "been really terrific on funding for the UC system and for enrollment growth. He has always been open and accessible to everyone. He strives very hard to improve the relationship between campus and community and to mitigate the impact of campus growth on the local community of Santa Cruz," said Arditti who retired in December after 40 years with the university.

"I remember the first paper I turned in as a student," Laird said of his UCSC days. "The professor wrote on it 'If there is a point here, I'm missing it.' I went from that to writing an honors thesis and to being elected to public office. That's what a UC education did for me."