Questioning Minds

POY 2008 CoverEvery campaign season brings a raft of candidates who boast that they will take office ready to ask the tough questions about why their states, cities and counties stick to the same policies and strategies, instead of finding ways to perform better. They promise to poke into the dark corners of government and get the answers needed to improve the system. Unfortunately, a promise that looks simple in October becomes difficult to implement in January. More often than not, the toughest questions end up near the bottom of a long to-do list.

For a public official, asking tough questions is rarely fun. But it's doable, if somebody with brains and courage and persistence demands answers. Our eight Public Officials of the Year possess all those qualities. Their efforts have brought real results that have improved the lives of the people they represent. Governing is proud to honor their accomplishments.

The 2008 Public Officials of the Year are:

Rick Baker, St. Petersburg Mayor

John Carter, Dayton, Ohio, Housing Inspector

Mitch Daniels, Indiana Governor

Lillian Koller, Director of the Hawaii Department of Human Services

Dan Lohrmann, Michigan's Chief Information Security Officer

Andrew Romanoff, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives

Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's Health Director

Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney