California Special Districts Association recognized Laird in Los Osos on Jan. 27

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) honored Senator John Laird (District 17) as their Legislator of the Year at an event held at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos on Friday, Jan. 27.

According to a press release from CSDA, Laird was honored for his support for the “local service specialists responsible for providing water, sanitation, fire protection, parks, healthcare and other essential services and infrastructure to communities throughout California.”

Laird represents San Luis Obispo County, including Paso Robles and Atascadero within his district, alongside portions of Monterey and Santa Clara counties.


Assemblymember Dawn Addis (District 30) was present and offered her own congratulations to Laird for his recognition.

 “State Senator Laird is accessible to listen to our needs and is accountable to the follow-up actions needed to bring those resources to our county, including special districts,” said Addis.

Laird was praised for his accessibility and engagement with his constituents. 

“We are so fortunate to have an engaged and effective representative in the State Legislature like Senator Laird,” stated CSDA Board President Elaine Magner. “His background in local government brings a perspective that recognizes the importance of special districts and the essential services they provide, and his legislation in 2022 creating the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District preserved a critical community resource for the residents of Watsonville.”

His was one of 46 signatures asking Newsom to extend COVID-19 relief funding access to special districts. This eventually led a $100 million allocation in the 2021-22 State Budget. As chair of the Senate Climate Working Group, the senator invited CSDA to present positions and thoughts on climate change legislation and budget actions to the group of senators.

In 2021, Laird authored Senate Bill 418, urgency legislation to establish the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District, a special district tasked with providing public oversight of the Watsonville Community Hospital. A stalwart of the community for nearly a century, the hospital evolved through several ownership structures over the years, which included nearly continuous turnover in ownership for two decades. 

In December 2021, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital filed for bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter, in an effort to ensure the hospital’s continued operations, and with the support of numerous community organizations and local governments, Laird introduced SB 418. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously, and on Feb. 4, 2022, Newsom signed the legislation into law. The hospital was officially transferred to public ownership on Aug. 31, 2022, just months after the introduction of SB 418.

“I am truly honored to be named Legislator of the Year by the California Special Districts Association (CSDA),” said Laird. “Having worked with special districts throughout my entire career of public service in local government, the Assembly, the Governor’s Cabinet, and now as a senator, I know firsthand the value they bring to their local communities in essential services. In a district with numerous special districts, I have had the pleasure to work with many of them and partner with CSDA. I am particularly proud to author SB 418 to create the Pajaro Valley Health Care District that met an urgent need for an underserved community by saving the local hospital. I look forward to continuing to work with CSDA and my special districts.”