Laird is a politician and educator who we think is the best man for the job. He knows the lawmaking and budgetary process inside and out and would still be in the Assembly had he not been termed out in 2008 after six years on the job.
As an assemblyman, Laird led the budget committee for four years and supports the idea of a simple majority to pass a state budget.
Of equal importance are Laird’s unwavering stance against offshore oil drilling and his voting record on environmental issues and state parks. Laird, a Santa Cruz resident, has always opposed drilling off our precious coast and has worked hard to protect state park funding. The San Lorenzo Valley has two state parks that provide beautiful oases from the surrounding cities, bring in tourist dollars and help make the area stand out. Laird knows this firsthand, and we expect he will keep his home in mind while crafting legislation and voting on state park-related bills.
In his favor, Laird called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Laird’s Republican opponent, Sam Blakeslee, to postpone the June 22 special election to a regularly scheduled election date to make the short-notice vote accessible to more voters. Instead, next week’s election will cost Santa Cruz County several hundred thousand dollars, in a time when it is running on a shoestring budget.
Laird’s chief opponent is Assemblyman Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, a fiscal conservative who supports a spending cap for the state. He hopes to stimulate the economy by supporting job creation in the area of energy and energy conservation. He said in a Press-Banner interview that tax increases might need to happen, but they should be supported only as a last resort.
We feel Blakeslee has been unfairly labeled “Oil Man Sam” by the Democratic Party. He has said he worked as a research scientist for Exxon but left the company after it refused to donate some abandoned wells for research purposes. His record indicates he is a moderate on environmental causes and has co-authored bills to reduce greenhouse emissions and support renewable energy. He has also voted against drilling off the coast on several occasions.
Despite Blakeslee’s good qualities, Laird’s environmental work, local ties and goal of streamlining the state’s budgetary process warrant a vote from the residents of Santa Cruz County.