Oct 25, 2005
“John Hickenlooper seems to get along with everybody,” writes Governing reporter Alan Greenblatt in the forthcoming article. “That’s not always been such an easy task for Denver mayors, but Hickenlooper has a knack for bringing together competing businesses and warring jurisdictions. The result is that after just two years on the job, Hickenlooper has already compiled a list of achievements that any veteran could envy.”
The winners also include the governor of Arkansas, New York City’s health director, a Florida state senator, the chief information officer of Michigan, Louisiana’s commissioner of administration, the executive of Nassau County, New York and the superintendent of Boston public schools.
“All of these people faced enormous challenges when they entered office,” said Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing’s executive editor. “They confronted fiscal emergencies and public health crises, interest group rivalry and institutional breakdown. In each case, our winners solved their most pressing problems and accomplished what might not have seemed possible a few years earlier. Their bold leadership and innovative policies should serve as models for officials nationwide.”
This year’s group of recipients is the twelfth to be honored in Governing’s annual awards program, which was launched in 1994. Governing, now 18 years old, is an independent national magazine devoted to coverage of state and local government. It has a circulation of 85,000. The award winners will be honored at a dinner November 9 in Washington, DC, hosted by the magazine and by the corporate sponsors of the awards: Northrop Grumman IT, CGI-AMS, HP, Siemens Corporation and Unisys.
Additional excerpts from Mayor Hickenlooper’s forthcoming Governing profile are provided below:
• Referring to FasTracks: “Hickenlooper’s was the most important public face of the successful campaign, but the FasTracks proposal boasted heavy financial support from business groups, as well as the endorsement of all 32 mayors in the Denver metro area...That newfound unity didn’t just happen. For years, neighboring suburbs bragged about jobs and businesses they’d poached from Denver. Hickenlooper, however, made the effort to reach out to suburban leaders and has been smart about sharing credit. ‘He’s the best thing that’s happened to this metropolitan region since sliced bread was invented,’ says Noel Busck, mayor of the northern suburb of Thornton.”
• “Hickenlooper, 53, enjoys enormous support not just from fellow pols but the public as well; his approval ratings in Denver have topped 90 percent. In addition to the success of FasTracks, that popularity also resulted in victory on a $378 million jail bond issue, which passed just four years after voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal. The forthcoming jail and courthouse are big pieces of the civic building boom Hickenlooper is supervising downtown, which also includes a major expansion of the Denver Art Museum, a new convention center hotel, and the recent opening of a $92 million opera house.”
• Referring to Denver’s plans to reduce chronic homelessness: “It’s a package that President Bush’s lead adviser on homelessness says puts ‘Denver in the forefront nationally’ on this issue.”
• “Hickenlooper says that government can be a ‘catalyst, but it can’t do it all by itself.’ Nonetheless, the mayor himself has proven to be quite a catalyst. Hickenlooper’s worked actively with the business community on development projects, raised big money for schools and helped resolve disputes among local employers—most notably between United and Frontier airlines over airport gates.”
• “‘He’s adapted to what he’s got and made it work,” says Dick Robinson, whose family has run a local dairy since 1884. ‘He’s probably one of the best executives I’ve ever met.’”
Governing 's 2005 Public Officials of the Year:
Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper worked to persuade voters to approve a comprehensive new metropolitan transit system by helping to galvanize a broad coalition of local governments and business leaders to support a ballot initiative.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee proved himself to be a national leader on health care policy who practices what he preaches by providing coverage to 200,000 children and by losing more than 100 pounds when he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Thomas Frieden, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, reduced the number of smokers in his city by 200,000 through a combination of tough anti-smoking legislation and assistance for people trying to quit.
Florida state Senator Paula Dockery created a consensus among historically antagonistic interest groups to win passage of landmark water-use legislation.
Jerry Luke LeBlanc, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration, reformed his state’s appropriations process and fought against an inefficient bureaucratic culture by instituting performance-based budgeting.
County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi of Nassau County, New York, took a government that was nearly $3 billion in debt and put it back on solid financial footing, balancing every budget and earning improved bond ratings.
Teri Takai, Michigan’s chief information officer, integrated information technology planning into all of her government’s core goals, thereby creating a national model for silo-busting IT leadership and saving the state $100 million.
Boston Superintendent of Schools Thomas W. Payzant produced enviable improvements in student performance through a back-to-basics approach and a focus on more effective teacher training.
# # #