State Medals

California has a wide variety of medals awarded for service to the state.

Special Act Award

Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor (Special Service) – State Employees – For an act of heroism by a state employee extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to his or her safety to save human life or state property.

Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor (Special Act) – State Employees – For an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.

Public Safety Medal of ValorA public safety officer (firefighter, ocean lifeguard, law enforcement officer, including a corrections or court officer or a civil defense officer, or an emergency services officer) – For extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. [Gov Code 3401]

California Order of California (CAOC)Employees of the California Military Department, civilians, or members of other military services – For those who distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the State or the United States in a position of great responsibility. [Military and Veterans Code sections 640-649]

California Medal of MeritEmployees of the California Military Department, civilians, or members of other military services – For exceptionally meritorious service to the State or the United States, or for a distinct service in furthering the interests of and in promoting the security and welfare of the State and the California National Guard. [Military and Veterans Code sections 640-649]

California Commendation Medal

California Commendation MedalEmployees of the California Military Department, civilians, or members of other military services – For serving in any capacity by meritorious service or achievement to the State or the United States (accomplished with distinction, but less than what is required for the Medal of Merit). Performance of duties normal to the position does not warrant award of the Commendation Medal. [Military and Veterans Code sections 640-649]

California State Military Reserve Military History Medal – Members of the California Military Department or civilians – awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the preservation and safekeeping of the military history and historical programs of the state in support of the CA Center for Military History, the California Military Museum, or any of its satellite facilities. [Military and Veterans Code sections 640-649]

State Library Gold Medal (Courtesy California State Library)

California State Library Gold Medal for Excellence in the Humanities and Science to an individual or organization – For publication of a work that has enriched the collection of the California State Library and enriched the state by significantly contributing to the intellectual, cultural, and scientific knowledge of the people of the state. [Education Code 19326]
Gary Snyder (Poet; 2001)
Maxine Hong Kingston (Author; 2002)
City Lights Book Store (Bookstore; 2003)

Governor’s AwardsCalifornia state employees (individually or as groups) – Presented to employees who distinguished themselves by outstanding service to the state during the preceding year. Employees shall be nominated for the award by the directors of the various state departments and agencies and the Governor shall select from the persons so nominated the persons to whom he or she shall make the award. The award shall consist of a suitable medal or trophy. [Government Code 19995.5 – 19995.7]

“Spirit of California” medal

California Hall of Fame Medal “Spirit of California”to Inductees of the California Hall of Fame – Not specifically authorized by statute, this medal is presented to each inductee at the induction ceremony as a symbol of their installation into the California Hall of Fame.
The California Hall of Fame (2006-present) celebrates the Golden State’s legends and trailblazers whose achievements have made history and changed the state, the nation and the world. To date, 138 Californians have been selected by three California gubernatorial administrations from 2006 to 2021.

California Disability Hall of FameCalifornians (disabled or not) whose have demonstrated superior cooperation and contributions to the employment of the handicapped – The Director of the Department of Rehabilitation may present awards to those employers, architects, clients, ex-clients, disabled Californians nominated or selected for the Hall of Fame, and other persons whose superior cooperation and contributions to the employment of the handicapped deserve special recognition. It does not appear that this is a currently-issued award.
[Welfare and Institutions Code 19000-19020]


The board of supervisors of any county may prepare, procure and present commemorative medals, resolutions, plaques, or other memorials honoring persons who have performed unique or particularly noteworthy public service or commemorating acts, accomplishments, events, or anniversaries of public significance and importance. Any such award presented under the authority of this section shall be of nominal value and cost. [Government Code 26206]

Riverside County Medal of Valor – Any County resident, or public employee of the county or subdivisions – The medal shall be awarded to an individual who distinguishes herself or himself by valorous conduct at the risk of life.

What Happened in the 2022 Election

[Updated 12/12]

That was interesting. An election season that roared by in that unique pandemic fashion that we’re still getting the hang of. Compared to the last cycle, the 2022 election appears to have brought far lower turnout than the 2020 election, and a significantly higher number of contests that remained unsettled past the first day or two of ballot-counting.

If you remember back to the age before the age before COVID, the last gubernatorial election (in 2018) resulted in the largest turnover of the Executive branch since 1911. Well, that influx resulted in a far lower turnover of state executive officers in 2022 than we’ve seen in quite a while. In fact, with only one constitutional officer departing (State Controller Betty T. Yee), Californians elected only one new constitutional officer (BOE Member Sally J. Lieber) in 2022. This is the lowest turnover of the state’s elected executive branch since 1962, when Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty was the sole new arrival.

When the new legislature convenes on December 5th, it will start with about 525 years of prior legislative experience. The youngest member of the Legislative Class of 2022 appears to be Assemblymember Greg Wallis at 32 (State Senator Caroline Menjivar is the youngest in the upper house). The oldest freshman member will be Diane Dixon who, at age 71, will be the second oldest female freshman in state history. The all-time record was set by Nell Soto who joined the Assembly at 72 in 1998.

With that information, it makes sense that least 17 members of the class are expected to be women, compared to 14 men. This means that this will the largest ever number of women in a class (the prior record was the 14 women in the class of 1992 AND that this will be only the second class in state history with more women than men (the class of 2018 included nine women and six men).

The class includes 22 native Californians, six born in other states, and three born outside the US (two in Mexico and one in Vietnam). Stephanie Nguyen will be our first Louisiana-born legislator since the mid-1990s and Angelique Ashby will be the first Oregon-born legislator since Tim Leslie in 2006 while Rick Zbur will be only our third New Mexico-born legislator.

Before the dust had even begun to settle after the election, the Assembly Democratic Caucus met to discuss their plans for the future. After several hours behind closed doors, it was announced that Speaker Anthony Rendon would retain the speakership through the start of the new session before transferring it to Robert Rivas on July 1st. These final seven months of “Speaker time” will bring Rendon to a total of 2,671 days while Speaker, making him the second longest serving after Willie Brown. The current holder of the #2 position, Jesse M. Unruh, left office after about 2,660 days.

It’s also worth noting that Rendon will be the longest serving Speaker since Leo T. McCarthy (in 1980) to hand off the Speakership to a member of his same party. Both Brown and Unruh outlived their majorities and were followed in office by Republicans.

The Democratic Caucuses are at an all-time high, and the 8 Republicans in the Senate are at the lowest point since 1883, while the 18 Republicans in the Assembly are the fewest in that house since 1876.

State Senator Janet Nguyen (elected in 2022) is the only Republican State Senator with a district touching the Pacific Ocean. In the Assembly, it’s Diane Dixon (AD72) and Laurie Davies (AD74) who have the distinction of being “coastal Republicans.” In fact, prior to the election of Dawn Addis, it had been just over a century since another Democrat from San Luis Obispo had represented that county in the State Assembly. It was back in 1922 that Alexander McMillan from Shandon was elected to his only term in the Assembly. Just for reference, only two other SLO County Democrats have served in the Assembly since 1900; Elmer Rigdon of Cambria (in 1915) and Oscar Gibbons of San Luis Obispo (in 1909).

Republican Assemblymembers Thurston “Smitty” Smith (AD34), Steven S. Choi (AD73) and Randy Voepel (AD75) each lost bids for reelection, with Smith and Voepel falling to fellow Republicans and Choi being defeated by Cottie Petrie-Norris. This marks the second time that Petrie-Norris and Tom Lackey have defeated incumbent legislators (Petrie-Norris having beat Matthew Harper in 2018 and Lackey having beat Steve Fox in 2014). In recent history, only Sharon Quirk-Silva has defeated two incumbent legislators (Chris Norby and Young Kim in 2016).

Assembly – The new districts with recently equalized populations, combined with mediocre turnout numbers, make it very unlikely that we’ll see any record-breaking high-vote victories in 2022. At the low end of the vote-getting spectrum, only one Assembly district is currently beneath the 21,388 votes that Isaac G. Bryan (D) was elected with in his 2021 special election.
Senate – No candidates appear likely to come anywhere near the high vote counts of the 2020 General Election. At the other end… although the candidates in SD16 will likely received the fewest votes of the election, the winner will almost certainly exceed the 48,483 votes received by Sydney Kamlager (D) in her 2021 special election.
Congress – The same as the Assembly and Senate, it’s unlikely that any candidates will break the high-vote records set in 2020. However, in Congress it appears that David Valadao (currently with about 53,000 votes) will have received far fewer than the current low for the decade (Connie Conway with 71,720 votes in a 2022 special election).

Running Unopposed in 2022

The California State Capitol

According the Notice to Candidates, issued by the Secretary of State on March 26, there will be 13 candidates for partisan office running unopposed in the June Primary. It’s important to remember that additional candidates may appear when the official list of candidates is released early next week, and that candidates can still qualify for the November ballot by running as write-in candidates in June.

Maria Elena Durazo and Ben Allen are the first State Senate candidates to run unopposed since Holly J. Mitchell (in 2018).

Blanca Rubio is unopposed in her run for the State Assembly for the third consecutive election (2022 & 2020 & 2018).

Two other Assembly candidates (Jim Patterson and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer) will each be having their third non-consecutive uncontested election. The last Assembly Republican to be elected unopposed more times than Patterson was Glenn Coolidge, who won his fifth uncontested campaign in 1960.

Four Republicans are running unopposed in 2022 (all for the Assembly). The last time four Republicans ran unopposed was 2010 (when two ran unopposed in Congress and two in the Assembly).

Candidates Running Unopposed in the June 2022 Primary:

Maria Elena Durazo (2022) – State Senate
Ben Allen (2022) – State Senate
Blanca Rubio (2022 & 2020 & 2018) – Assembly
Jim Patterson (2022 & 2020 & 2014) – Assembly
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (2022 & 2016 & 2014) – Assembly
Heath Flora (2022) – Assembly
Buffy Wicks (2022) – Assembly
Mia Bonta (2022) – Assembly
Vince Fong (2022) – Assembly
Chris Holden (2022) – Assembly
Luz Rivas (2022) – Assembly
Miguel Santiago (2022) – Assembly
Phillip Chen (2022) – Assembly