State Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, who forged a controversial budget compromise early last year, will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Cogdill, who represents the Lodi area, suffered a political demotion because of his vote, and he is not seeking re-election.
He will be honored along with Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Clovis, State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles. Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, will present the award on May 24 at Kennedy's presidential library and museum in Boston.
"Faced with the most difficult choices and a budget crisis of unprecedented magnitude, these legislative leaders had the courage to negotiate a compromise that they felt was in the public's best interest," Caroline Kennedy said in a news release.
"They did so knowing they would suffer the wrath of their constituents, powerful interest groups and their own party members," Kennedy said. "The members of the Profile in Courage Award Committee chose to herald this story of political courage and bi-partisan compromise with the hope that it will inspire other elected officials facing similar challenges to stand up with courage, to cross party lines and to do whatever is necessary to better serve the public interest."
The Senate's Republican caucus removed Cogdill and Villines as Republican leaders shortly after agreeing to a compromise with Democrats that called for a tax increase to balance the budget. Voters decisively defeated the budget measure during a special election in May. In November, Cogdill announced that he would not seek a second and final term in the Senate because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is running for Stanislaus County Assessor this year.
Bret de St. Jeor, a Republican candidate for the seat Cogdill is vacating, said that Cogdill didn't seek a second Senate term because he couldn't have been re-elected.
"I did not take the choices before me last year lightly, but the budget was truly a compromise," Cogdill said in a news release. "With the imminent threat of thousands of jobs lost due to the potential shutdown of construction projects and the state on the brink of issuing IOUs instead of tax refunds, inaction during last year's historic budget gap would have brought our already-weak economy to its knees."
Before joining the Legislature, Cogdill worked eight years in the Mono County Assessor's office, serving the two final years as chief appraiser. He was in the real estate appraisal business in Modesto for 26 years and spent two terms on the Modesto City Council.
Cogdill was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Reaction to Cogdill's Profile in Courage AwardFive Republicans seeking the 14th Senate District seat that Dave Cogdill is vacating this year weighed in on Cogdill receiving the Profile in Courage Award.
Steve Presson, consultant for Tom Berryhill, Oakdale: "Tom Berryhill has the greatest respect for Sen. Cogdill's leadership, but they happened to disagree on that particular budget vote. Tom doesn't believe in tax increases."
Tim Campi, Manteca: "There has to be some kind of give and take. (The budget) is not going to be fixed by itself. I'm not for higher taxes, but there's got to be ways we can go around that without raising taxes. There has to be some cuts. Did Cogdill do the right thing? I don't know."
Bret de St. Jeor, Modesto: "I think Sen. Cogdill should use this award as a badge of shame. It doesn't take courage for the Legislature to spend someone else's money. It takes courage to make the tough choices needed to balance the budget during a recession."
Heidi Fuller, Columbia: "Compromise in the Legislature is a one-way street. The Democrats want to raise taxes. It's not a compromise. It was a cave-in to special interests. (Cogdill) had the 'courage' to jump off a cliff and try to take the rest of California with him."
Tom Marsella, Fresno: "It's a surprise but well earned. He did an outstanding job as a legislator. He's the kind of legislator I'd like to be. I don't agree with him on (the budget compromise)."
About the Profile in Courage AwardThe John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences.
The award is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989 to honor President Kennedy's commitment and contribution to public service.
Source: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation