Ron Swanson is the director of the Parks and Recreation Department for Pawnee, Ind., the seventh-largest city in that state. A proud libertarian, Swanson eschews all functions of government and believes in its privatization. Contrary to his personal beliefs, under his tenure, Pawnee earned a state record for the smallest park in Indiana.
This year brought Swanson a diverse and impressive array of accomplishments. Already in his trophy case was the Dorothy Everton Smythe Female Empowerment Award, an honor that Swanson was the first man to receive. A master wood craftsman, Swanson won "Best Chair" award in the 2012 Indiana Fine Woodworking Association Woodworking Awards. Swanson also helped his deputy parks department director to capture a city council seat over a better-funded opponent.
Swanson is a decorated jazz saxophone artist, performing his celebrated trio of discs under the stage name "Duke Silver." He is also an award-winning griller. His nature club, "the Swansons," mentors youth who are interested in extreme self-reliance skills such as food rationing and fashioning drums to which they can march.
Swanson champions the Second Amendment. He began working at a sheet metal factory at 9 years old, moved to work at tannery at age 11, and used his earnings to attend college. He has only cried twice in his life.