BEST MAYOR Minneapolis 2002 - Pat Awada
With the exception of the leaders of the two Twin Cities, metro mayors don't spend much time in the limelight. Not so 35-year-old Pat Awada, who, in addition to leading Eagan for four years, is running two businesses and a campaign for state auditor. Awada, whose politics skew to the right of even some of her fellow Republicans, has never shied away from controversy. She has fought tooth and nail against affordable-housing advocates and Metropolitan Council officials who have encouraged Eagan to develop more high-density housing. More recently, she aligned herself with Mary Jo Copeland to bring an orphanage to Eagan, a controversial proposal that had failed to find a home in four other municipalities. Like all true conservatives, Awada has long kept her eye on the bottom line: Eagan, home to Northwest Airlines and several ancillary airline businesses, has been hit hard by layoffs since 9/11. But according to the mayor, the city's budget remains on the plus side, and most infrastructure costs will be met. Her politics may be downright unforgivable to many, but even her archenemies (and she has plenty) respect her for sticking to her guns. And in this era of governing by conformity, that in itself is all too rare.