Politics & Personalities
2000 Readers Poll
2000 Critics Picks
Best City Department

It's a dangerous job, the pay is low, and the hours are long and grueling. Nonetheless, the men and women at AFD have chosen to spend their days making Austin a safer place for the rest of us to live in, and for that they are truly among the city's heroes.

Austin Fire Department
92 Red River
Austin Fire Department Headquarters, 4201 Ed Bluestein, 512/974-0130
Austin Fire Department Station #7, 201 Chicon
Fire Station #11, 1605 Kinney
South Austin Fire Station, 1705 S. Congress, 512/442-6822
Fire Station #1, Fifth & Trinity, 512/974-4100
www.cityofaustin.org/fire

Best City Service

It's a banner year for our local angels who serve the HIV-positive community. Not only have you voted them the "Best of Austin," but 10 years after their founding, they've just recently moved into new digs as well; that means more room for this dedicated team of physicians, nurses, and support staff to provide a one-stop shop of services, ranging from social work to pharmacy to nutrition for 1,300 clients from across the city.

Best Council Member

Now that the sight of Slusher ducking, instead of throwing, bombs no longer shocks us, we can start to appreciate the many political roles played by our erstwhile former Chronicle comrade. Watson go-to guy or opposition firebrand? Smooth inside operator or populist reformer? In his four years on the City Council, the answer is "all of the above."

Daryl Slusher
Eighth & Colorado
499-2260

Best Effort To Improve Austin

SOS helped to pass the ordinance that protects water quality in Austin. They are also responsible for having the Barton Springs salamander recognized as an endangered species. We thank them for their perseverance and for making developers, local government, and citizens alike accountable for the use and misuse of Austin's waterways.

Save Our Springs Alliance
221 E. Ninth #300
512/477-2320
www.sosalliance.org

Best Local Eccentric

He's had a higher profile lately, what with his run for mayor and stint as a model for those ubiquitous dot-com ads, but don't let that worry you: Fame hasn't gone to Leslie's head. Most days, you can find Austin's favorite homeless transvestite out on Sixth and Congress; just follow the line of tourists waiting to take their picture by his side. And scandalous? Well, maybe his skirts leave too little to the imagination. But some would say that Leslie, the hairiest downtown drag queen to run for mayor in this publication's memory, was the best thing to happen to Austin politics in the past year. Hey, he didn't win 7% of the vote on his good looks alone.

Best Local Hero/Legend

There goes our hero: Lance. He graces many posters and billboards, exists in the hearts of Austin's citizens, and the whole world can hear his name and sigh. He beat cancer, won the Tour de France, and has had 46 international victories. We can admire him for his strength in the game and for his courage in his personal life. Best of all, he wholeheartedly accepts Austin as his family that embraced him through thick and thin. We embrace you back, Lance, again and again.

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong Foundation
2201 E. Sixth
www.lancearmstrong.com

Best Local Internet Startup

Some dot-com ideas are just silly, and some dot-com companies are just lame, but Charitygift.com is neither. By streamlining the process of honoring special people and occasions with a gift to charity, this startup used the Internet to take something that used to be tedious and made it easy. And the business side worked well enough for Charitygift to be acquired in July by Bay Area-based Charitableway.com.

Charitygift.com
701 Rio Grande
512/477-4438

Best Local Scandal

He's had a higher profile lately, what with his run for mayor and stint as a model for those ubiquitous dot-com ads, but don't let that worry you: Fame hasn't gone to Leslie's head. Most days, you can find Austin's favorite homeless transvestite out on Sixth and Congress; just follow the line of tourists waiting to take their picture by his side. And scandalous? Well, maybe his skirts leave too little to the imagination. But some would say that Leslie, the hairiest downtown drag queen to run for mayor in this publication's memory, was the best thing to happen to Austin politics in the past year. Hey, he didn't win 7% of the vote on his good looks alone.

Best Local Visionary And Best Mover & Shaker

Say what you will about Da Mayor, he's taken a torpid Austin city government and made it sing, on the radical premise that City Hall can actually be vital and helpful and that when Austinites say they value our area's quality of life, they really mean it. If this doesn't seem visionary to you, then you weren't living here in the Eighties. And when the mayor moves, you better believe the ground shakes. Watson's reputation may be pocked with charges that he charges ahead too quickly and too often governs by fiat, not compromise, but when all is said and done, the mayor's legacy will most likely be a positive one: economic redevelopment, cleaner air and water, and a reputation as a consensus builder in a city long known for its divisive, and destructive, political battles.

Sen. Kirk Watson
Capitol Extension Room E1.804
512/463-0114
www.kirkwatson.com

Best Mover & Shaker

SEE ABOVE

Sen. Kirk Watson
Capitol Extension Room E1.804
512/463-0114
www.kirkwatson.com

Best News Story

A story that keeps coming, over and over, that has thankfully not become routine. With everything Texan in the national spotlight, every time the lights go out in Huntsville, George W. looks just a little bit less compassionate. The fact that average folks are even thinking about the wisdom of the death penalty is cause for gratitude.

Best Nonprofit Group

These sisters are doing it for themselves. Since its inception in 1997, Girlstart (formerly known as Smartgrrls) has worked to empower girls all over the city to hone their skills at science, math, and technology with afterschool workshops, Saturday programs, and winter and summer camp retreats. You go, girls!

Girlstart STEM Center
1400 W. Anderson
512/916-4775
www.girlstart.org

Best State Department

Both this paper and the daily have recently run stories about "Texas parks in crisis," but what's remarkable is how good a state park system we do have, considering what kind of state government we have. From right here in the Austin city limits to the far corners of the state, TPWD lets everyone touch a bit of the real Texas.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Rd.
512/389-4800
www.tpwd.state.tx.us

Best Unsung Hero/Heroes

In this, our first year for this category, we find that readers voted overwhelmingly for those men and women focused on the public good, whose endless energy and tireless dedication keep certain issues and agendas from being back-burnered by the powers that be. You'll see that the list also includes some celebs and musicians to boot. Here's a short list of those who received multiple votes: Austin Free-Net, David Powell Clinic, environmentalists, firefighters, Save Barton Creek, Girlstart.com, Habitat for Humanity, Hollywood Henderson, hospice volunteers, Judge Jeanne Meurer, SafePlace, KVRX-FM UT student radio, Leslie Cochran, Austin PARD, schoolteachers, SIMS Foundation, Ray Benson, Reverend Kathy Russell, Sara Hickman, Shudde Fath, Richard Troxell, SOS, UT workers, volunteer nurses, Ted Whatley, Wildlife Rescue, and the Yellow Bike Project.

 
Readers: Outdoors & Recreation
Readers: Services

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