Dave Cogdill, in his six years in the California Assembly and two in the State Senate, has been a good friend of Tuolumne County.

Now that he's been elected senate majority leader by his Republican colleagues, the Modesto legislator will be a powerful friend as well.

"He'll have access to all the important people and all the key meetings," said Tuolumne County Administrator Craig Pedro. "He'll be the same capable legislator we've worked with for year, but his new position will give him a lot more clout."

Yes, John Garamendi represented Tuolumne County in the State Senate during the 1980s, served a term as majority leader and helped secure funding for the original Sonora Bypass. But it has been more than 15 years since one of Tuolumne County's legislators had that kind of clout.

Although the lion's share of Cogdill's senate district is in the San Joaquin Valley, he has taken an interest in foothill and mountain interests and has been a frequent advocate for Tuolumne County.

He has hosted a series of natural resources summits in Sonora, helped win funding for the East Sonora Bypass, defended the Williamson Act from potential cuts, wrote a bill setting weight limits on the steep, tortuous Old Priest Grade, sponsored naming a 70-mile stretch of Highway 108 "Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway," helped keep the Nelson family operating Columbia State Park's venerable Candy Kitchen, sponsored a Columbia College forum on rural health care and arranged for the U.S. Forest Service's national leaders to be in Sonora to answer questions about logging and fire protection.

Cogdill is a Republican, but many of the issues he has championed cross party lines and are simply good for Tuolumne County and other communities along the western slope of the Sierra.

Voters and the percentages make it clear his support includes more than a few Democrats have appreciated what Cogdill has done:

? After winning election to the Assembly in 2000 with 60.7 percent of the district-wide vote (and 60 percent of Tuolumne County's), he won reelection two years later with 62 percent support, both from here and the rest of the district.

? In 2004, his reelection support both here and in the valley rocketed to 68 percent.

? Termed out in the Assembly, 14th State Senate District voters in 2006 put him in the upper house with 67 percent support (64 percent in Tuolumne County).

With impeccable conservative credentials, legislative experience dating back to 2000 and six more years in office before he is termed out, senate Republicans made a good choice in Dave Cogdill.

Those lawmakers may not have known they were also making a good choice for Tuolumne County, but we nevertheless appreciate their votes.

Union Democrat editorial positions are formed through regular meetings of the newspaper's editorial board Publisher Ron Horton; editor Teresa Chebuhar; managing editor, news Craig Cassidy; senior reporter-columnist Chris Bateman.