Best Gadfly - 2005
Appointed to the St. Louis Board of Education by Mayor Francis Slay to fill the vacancy left by deposed curse-spouter Rochell Moore, Veronica O'Brien was supposed to appeal to African-American constituents while toeing the mayoral line on school reform. But although O'Brien started her term tentatively, she has quickly emerged front-and-center as a gadfly extraordinaire. Her cell phone and BlackBerry are constantly abuzz with dispatches from parents, teachers and administrators. She doesn't miss a meeting (or a chance for public exposure). And she'll elbow her way around the board majority without qualm. She might not be exactly what the mayor ordered, but she's not going anywhere soon: Voters elected her in April to a full three-year term.