League of California Cities


The League of California Cities recognizes city officials, members of the Legislature, members of Congress, and other leaders whose actions contribute to the strength of local control and vitality of city governments throughout the state.

  • Each year, California’s 482 cities make unique contributions to their communities that improve people’s lives and city operations. The 12 Helen Putnam Award categories recognize this contribution by honoring city governments that have demonstrated collaborative approaches to solving challenging problems in their communities. The Award for Excellence was established in memory of former Petaluma Mayor and League of California Cities President Helen Putnam. Her lifetime commitment to excellence in city government set an example for all of us. Cal Cities celebrates her life and service through this award.
  • Cal Cities typically selects one or more members of the Legislature annually to recognize their efforts that strengthen local control. The award is often presented during the League of California Cities Annual Conference & Expo or at another Cal Cities event. Honorees are later featured in Western City magazine.
  • The League of California Cities Past Presidents Council annually selects an individual who has made a significant and unique contribution to the state or to his or her community over an extended period of years to be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is presented during the annual conference. 

    Preference will be given to nominees who have been closely associated with cities. However, nominees may be considered from the following categories:

    • Local government leaders
    • Academicians/teachers
    • Authors
    • Media producers
    • Community leaders
    • State or national leaders


    • 1996 – Senator Robert Beverly
    • 1997 – Tom Bradley, former mayor, Los Angeles
    • 1998 – Bud Carpenter, former executive director, League of California Cities
    • 1999 – Jack Maltester, former mayor, San Leandro
    • 2000 – Wes McClure, former city manager, San Leandro
    • 2001 – Joseph Rattigan
    • 2002 – Carol Whiteside, former mayor, Modesto
    • 2003 – Dan Walters, newspaper columnist, Sacramento Bee
    • 2004 – Norman Mineta, secretary of t ransportation, Bush Administration White House Cabinet ; former mayor, San Jose
    • 2005 – Jerry Patterson, president, Institute for Local Government ; former mayor, Santa Ana ; former member, U S Congress
    • 2006 – Rosario Marin, secretary, California State and Consumer Services Agency ; former mayor, Huntington Park ; former U S treasurer
    • 2007 – A. Alan Post, former c hief l egislative a nalyst, state of California
    • 2008 – Harriet Miller, former mayor, Santa Barbara; president of the Institute for Local Government
    • 2009 – Kevin Starr, author, historian, and former state librarian
    • 2010 – Ray Remy, former director, California EDD; former deputy mayor, Los Angeles; former assistant director, League of California Cities
    • 2011 – Dianne Feinstein, U S Senator ; former mayor, San Francisco
    • 2012 – Ron Loverage, mayor, city of Riverside
    • 2013 – Beverly O'Neil, former mayor, Long Beach
    • 2014 – Hal Conklin, former mayor, Santa Barbara
    • 2015 – Anna Cabellero, former mayor and council member, Salinas and current secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency 
    • 2016 – Gov. Pete Wilson, former mayor, San Diego, League president, U.S. senator, Assembly member
    • 2017 – Don Benninghoven, former executive director, League of California Cities, and Chris McKenzie, former executive director, League of California Cities
    •   2018 – JoAnne Speers, former staff attorney and general counsel, League of California Cities and former executive director, Institute for Local Government
  • The League of California Cities periodically honors city officials, lawmakers and others with a special recognition award.
© League of California Cities