SACRAMENTO, CA – John Laird was sworn in as a State Senator today to represent the over 900,000 constituents of Senate District 17, which stretches from southern Santa Clara County through Santa Cruz County, coastal and south Monterey County, and south through San Luis Obispo County, including the majestic Carrizo Plain National Monument. Sworn in at noon today, Laird was among nineteen other newly elected or re-elected Senators. The ceremony was markedly different from traditional swearing-in ceremonies due to COVID-19 distancing requirements. No friends, family, or staff members were allowed into the Capitol, which remains closed to all but essential staff. 

“I am eager to start tackling the many significant issues that face the diverse constituency of the 17th Senate District,” said Sen. Laird. “With the impacts of climate change ravaging our coastline, our forests, and the health and safety of everyone in our district and beyond, not a moment can be lost in pushing further action on climate resiliency. Along with that is the urgent need to address the devastating health and economic impact of COVID-19. I will prioritize ensuring broad access to a vaccine when it is available and working on near-term economic relief for the most vulnerable Californians.”

Continued Sen. Laird: “The diversity of our district reflects the diversity of the many issues beyond climate change that must be meaningfully addressed. Racial justice, access to quality healthcare and education, affordable housing, and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be priorities for me and my team. As a former local elected official, legislator, and agency secretary, I see many opportunities through existing programs, regulations, budgets, and legislation to improve the lives of the people I’ve been elected to represent.”

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, every Senator was tested for COVID-19, and only twenty senators were among the forty seats in the chamber – with the remaining Senators distanced around the back of the chamber. Senator Laird read the opening prayer on behalf of Sister Michelle Gorman, the Senate Chaplain, who could not attend due to the chambers’ paired down number. In addition, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) was re-elected to another term as Pro Tem.


Sen. Laird also announced several key staff positions:

Capitol Office:

-Chief of Staff – Richard Stapler (formerly VP of Public Affairs California Dental Association, Deputy Secretary California Natural Resources Agency)

-Legislative Director – Michelle V. Reyes (previously advocate for Political Solutions, Policy Analyst California State Assembly)

-Scheduler – Jenn Short (formerly scheduler in California State Senate and Assembly)

District Office:

-District Director – Angela Chesnut (formerly Chief Aide for Santa Cruz County Supervisor, Strategic Consultant)

A full list of staff for the Capitol, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, and San Luis Obispo will be released soon. 

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