Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Assn., left, and Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. (DON LEACH, Daily Pilot / December 23, 2011)

1.) Jim Righeimer. Costa Mesa's mayor pro tem led an unapologetic charge to restructure the city with layoffs, pension reform and the creation of a proposed city charter, making him the target of organized labor and a hero of reform-minded conservatives who argue that the city's finances are unsustainable.

An earlier version incorrectly said that Greg Ridge and Sandy Genis were involved with Save the Fair and that Jim Fitzpatrick was a board member for the Costa Mesa water district.

2.) Nick Berardino. The general manager of the Orange County Employees Assn. led an equally unapologetic fight to keep public employees on the payroll, where he blitzed the city in an effort to stop some 200 planned layoffs and won an appointment to the Orange County Fair Board along the way.

3.) Katrina Foley. This independent-minded Newport-Mesa Unified school trustee championed schools, youth sports, charitable work and public employees, and also served as a counterpoint to the tradition-bound school board.

4.) Tom Hatch. Costa Mesa's new city CEO found himself in the unenviable position of having to lead during what has arguably been the most difficult chapter in city history.

5.) Dave Kiff. Costa Mesa got most of the attention, but the Newport Beach city manager, aided by the City Council, made quiet but meaningful financial reforms that few would call painless.

6.) Nancy Gardner. Newport Beach's new mayor, a pragmatic environmentalist and consensus-builder, goes her own way, but manages to do so with little conflict.

7.) Jeffrey Hubbard. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District superintendent pleaded not guilty to a third felony charge of misappropriation of public funds related to his old job as the Beverly Hills schools chief and will go to trial in January.

8.) Kimberly Claytor. The teachers' union president voiced support for cutting money from the administration instead of the classroom and led a teachers union no-confidence vote in the superintendent.

9.) Leslie Daigle. The Newport Beach councilwoman and state Assembly candidate can rightfully claim partial credit for efforts to dredge the bay and improve water quality.

10.) Sandy Segerstrom Daniels. The Festival of Children Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, and its founder has become a powerful voice for the voiceless.

11.) Helen Nenadal. Though not one to seek the spotlight, the head of the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. fought the reforms at City Hall and put her name on the lawsuit seeking to stop the layoffs.

12.) Steve Mensinger. The Costa Mesa councilman teamed with Righeimer in an attempt to restructure the government and put infrastructure improvements back on the front burner.

13.) Steve Beazley. The president and chief executive of the OC Fair & Event Center survived the proposed sale of the fairgrounds and had a fair this year that broke attendance records.

14.) Jeff Teller. The Orange County Market Place operator managed to convince a Fair Board hell bent on removing his operation from the fairgrounds to change its mind.

15.) Walt Davenport. The immediate past Newport-Mesa Unified school board president stood steadfastly alongside the embattled superintendent, earning an A for loyalty but lower marks from the teachers union.

16.) Allan Roeder. Costa Mesa's well-liked city manager retired after 36 years at City Hall.

17.) Henry T. Segerstrom. The Orange County Performing Arts Center was recently renamed the Segerstrom Center for the Arts due to the patronage of the managing co-partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons (South Coast Plaza).