October 19, 2012 09:00 ET

GOVERNING Announces 2012 Public Officials of the Year

Top State and Local Government Officials Honored in 21st Annual Awards Program

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Oct 19, 2012) - GOVERNING today announced the eight public officials who are being honored as the year's best and brightest in state and local government.

Now in its 21st year, the annual Public Officials of the Year program recognizes leaders from state, city and county government who exemplify the ideals of public service -- men and women who, according to GOVERNING publisher Erin Waters, "have dedicated their careers to improving government and our communities through leadership, innovation and good management."

"These are people," said Waters, "who in spite of significant obstacles, not only believed that recovery would come, but worked to make it happen. They made a difference -- to the economic health of their communities and to the lives of individual citizens. They deserve our thanks and admiration."

GOVERNING's 2012 Public Officials of the Year include:

  • Bruce Hanna (R) and Arnie Roblan (D), Co-Speakers of the Oregon House of Representatives. Hanna and Roblan chose to share leadership of an evenly divided legislature, setting in motion a tenure that has been marked by rare bipartisan cooperation and two of the most productive legislative sessions in Oregon's history.

  • Elaine M. Howle, California State Auditor. Howle's tireless efforts to cut wasteful spending and failing programs and to make government run better have been widely praised, earning her department -- one of the few in Sacramento that are still growing -- enormous respect and a growing list of responsibilities.

  • Joette Katz, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Children and Families. Katz left her job as a Connecticut Supreme Court Justice to take on one of the toughest jobs in government. She excelled, turning many of the state's underperforming services around by focusing on clinically proven strategies for helping children and families and reducing the number of kids in institutional care by more than 70 percent.

  • John E. Nixon, Director, Department of Technology, Management & Budget for the State of Michigan. After just six weeks on the job, Nixon had rebalanced the state budget and put together a sweeping tax-reform package. With the state now on firmer financial ground, Nixon also locked $47 million for technology into the state's base budget for the next five years.

  • Toni Preckwinkle, Board President, Cook County, Ill. A former schoolteacher, Preckwinkle is credited with righting the county's fiscal ship and closing a $487 million budget gap in her first year. She also put the county on track to issue its tax bills on time for the first time in 30 years and worked with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to pinpoint $33 million in potential joint savings and new revenues.

  • Mark Rohr, City Manager, Joplin, Mo. On May 22, 2011, when the worst tornado a U.S. city has seen in 60 years hit Joplin, killing 158 people and destroying 7,500 homes and businesses, Rohr leapt into action, coordinating one of the most efficient disaster recovery efforts in memory.

  • Brian Sandoval, Governor, Nevada. Sandoval took office in 2011 amid bruising, record-low public opinions of the governorship, fierce partisanship and record unemployment -- not to mention a brutal housing crisis. Today, unemployment is down, and through strong leadership, he has restored confidence in the office by forging bipartisan agreements and working closely with legislators to close a $3 billion budget deficit.

Public Officials of the Year are selected from nominations submitted by readers, experts in the public and private sectors and the GOVERNING editorial team. Among the qualities recognized are leadership, courage, innovation, creativity and good management. Award winners are profiled in the November issue of the magazine and on They will be honored at a dinner at the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. on November 15. The event is hosted by GOVERNING and sponsored by AARP, Assured Guaranty, CH2MHILL, IBM, Kronos and RBC Capital Markets.

New this year, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute, GOVERNING will also recognize three future leaders at its award ceremony. Miriam Altman, Barrie Charney Golden and Alexandra Meis are graduate students who won the Fels Public Policy Challenge for an app that tracks student attendance in the New York City public school system.

For 25 years, GOVERNING in the States and Localities has provided independent, nonpartisan coverage of state and local government. GOVERNING is a division of e.Republic, a national publishing, event and research company focused on smart media for public sector innovation.