Colorado's House speaker, Denver Democrat Andrew Romanoff, is one of the government leaders around the nation that have been named among the winners of Governing magazine's Public Official of the Year awards for 2008.
The award is given in recognition of "outstanding achievement in state and local government," according to a press release.
“These public officials each asked tough questions, and when they had their answers, they weren’t afraid to act," Alan Ehrenhalt, the magazine's executive editor, said. "Their leadership has led to unexpected progress—from reduced blight on foreclosed properties to the exoneration of inmates who were wrongly convicted to the removal of unsafe cold medicines from the shelves. These officials prove that by asking sometimes painful questions, smart, dedicated people can change government for the better.”
According to a press release issued by the magazine, Romanoff is being recognized because he "built a bipartisan coalition to take on the politically risky task of overhauling a constitutional provision that was crippling the state budget."
He is joined in receiving the award by St. Petersburg, FL Mayor Rick Baker, who spearheaded a building boom in his city’s downtown while improving schools, parks and public facilities in neighborhoods throughout St. Petersburg; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who championed landmark infrastructure and health care legislation, while improving the management of state government and putting his state on a sound fiscal footing; Dallas County, TX district attorney Craig Watkins, whose push for DNA testing identified and freed 19 inmates who had been wrongly convicted, many of whom had been behind bars for years; Baltimore, MD, health director Joshua Sharfstein, who led a national campaign that called into question the safety and effectiveness of children’s cold medicines, prompting drug companies to pull the medications and resulting in new Food and Drug Administration rules; Hawaii's director of human services Lillian Koller, who overhauled her state’s system of dealing with at-risk children, cutting child abuse and reducing the number of children in foster care; Dayton, OH housing inspector John Carter, who untangled the webs of the mortgage services industry to determine which lending companies had the title to vacant properties, then worked with these companies to fix and maintain the abandoned homes; and Michigan chief information security officer Dan Lohrmann, whose pioneering efforts to keep state computers and networks secure are viewed as a model by technology officials around the country.
The award winners are profiled in the November issue of Governing and will be honored at a dinner November 12 in Washington, D.C.
This year’s group of recipients is the fifteenth to be honored by the magazine. Governing is an independent national magazine devoted to coverage of state and local government. It has a circulation of 85,000 state and local officials.