CFT’s Community College Council President Jim Mahler called state Senator Marty Block, who represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach, the union’s “go-to guy on every issue for decades,” when awarding Block the CFT’s Legislator of the Year Award.

Block has a strong education background — currently he chairs the Senate Education Committee, and he held the same position for the Assembly Higher Education Committee. Before that he served as a member of the San Diego County Board of Education and as president of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees.

Block has consistently supported progressive education policies and Mahler says Block works to include all the players in education. “Educating our students requires the work of both faculty and staff,” Mahler said. “Marty gets that.”

Block, whose award came at the end of a packed morning that included AFT President Randi Weingarten, a moving presentation on the life of Raoul Teilhet, the CFT’s first full-time president, and a keynote address from California Attorney General Kamala Harris, joked about the inopportune timing after saying how much the award meant to him.

“Jim told me I was going to get an award,” the senator said. “Then he told me I was going to follow Kamala Harris. Then he told me it would be the last thing before lunch.”

Block said he wants to focus on ensuring proper funding for California schools and colleges. And one more thing. 

“I’m committed to protecting your very well-earned pensions,” he said. “And I’m talking about defined benefit pensions — real pensions.”