By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jan 01, 2015 at 5:30 AM

Today we say goodbye to the old and hello to the new, but I am not going to be dragged into another year without pausing to remember the people who helped to make 2014 memorable.

Some of them are on this list for good things, some for not so good, but they are all pretty local and they all held some fascination and combined to create a year to remember.

Gov. Scott Walker.  He won three elections in the span of four years and stayed true to his ultra-conservative core beliefs. His national profile grew considerably as Republicans began casting around for a candidate for president. Walker is not the favorite of everyone, but he seems to have powerful tea party backing and he’s one heck of a campaigner. He’s a fascinating political phenomenon.

Dontre Hamilton. Hamilton died, shot by a white cop who was rousing the mentally ill man from a slumber in Red Arrow Park. With the national conversation about racial challenges between blacks and cops raging, Hamilton and officer Chris Manney brought the issue home to Milwaukee with repercussions that will echo for a long time.

Dale Gutzman. He runs this little black box theater across the street from the mighty Milwaukee Rep. He runs it on a shoestring. But he always does some of the most inventive and creative stuff you can find anywhere in the city. He always swings for the fences and doesn’t always hit a homer, but his "Romeo and Juliet," set in an Italian home for retired actors was a brilliant piece of theater.

Ald. Milele Coggs. The Coggs women have a long and distinguished political history in Milwaukee and Milele is the third generation to step up. I think she is young and still getting her feet under her, but if she continues to develop and learns to broaden her base, she could well become a political force in this city. There is a vacuum for black leadership in Milwaukee and it could be filled by Coggs.

Pedro Colon. He’s a circuit court judge but has a history of politics and the fascination about him is the undercurrent of talk about him jumping back into electoral politics. I keep hearing that there is some pressure on Colon to run for mayor, either against Tom Barrett or, if Barrett steps down, for an open seat. He would be an immensely attractive candidate.

Sheriff David Clarke. Shame on us in Milwaukee County for actually electing this imposter again. Just when it seems this guy can’t be more absurd or ridiculous he manages to open his trap and put his foot even deeper inside. It’s a fascinating march through the crazed world of gun nuts. He’s embarrassing and someone should take his black cowboy hat away.

County Executive Chris Abele. I really don’t like putting politicians on a list like this, but in the case of Abele it’s unavoidable. His fascination quotient took a giant leap when gay marriage was made legal in Wisconsin. He paid out of his own pocket to keep the courthouse open for ceremonies. The vision of Abele in shirtsleeves, avoiding the glare of publicity and smiling broadly over a wedding ceremony was a striking moment of someone who really cares.

Police Chief Edward Flynn. In a rare unguarded moment, the Milwaukee police chief responded to reporters as he was on his way to the scene of the death of a 5-year-old girl who had been shot while sitting on her grandfather’s lap. Flynn was as moved as I’ve ever seen a police chief and he pulled no punches during his November flareup. It was a telling moment about the character of this man.

Marti Gobel. She’s an actor, director, producer and the mother of triplets. There is no rational explanation for the energy she has for so many projects. And what’s more she never cheats. She always gives her very best and that is world class stuff on every end of the spectrum.

Ken Hanson. Hanson, who runs Hanson-Dodge Creative, has put his money, influence and reputation where his mouth is by forming Greater Together. The idea is to use art and artistic works to start a meaningful dialogue about race and class difficulties in Milwaukee. He's built quite a congregation of people and organizations and fuels a unique approach to an old and bedeviling problem. 

Wes Edens and Marc Lasry. A few months ago nobody had ever heard of these two guys. Then they spent a half a billion dollars to buy the Milwaukee Bucks and embarked on an invasion of Milwaukee that was full of promise, and promise, and promise. It seemed like there was no top end to the wonders they planned. The fascination is in their promises and in the results. We’re watching.

Michael Pink. The Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Ballet continues to preside over and develop one of the very best resident dance companies in the country. Pink may not always keep everyone happy, but he understands the role of the artist is to challenge and to stretch, both his dancers and his audience.

Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback seems intent on his pursuit of absolute perfection. He almost never has a bad game and occasionally his performance is mind boggling. Plus he is dating Olivia Munn who talked about their sex life in an interview.

Molly Snyder. This may seem like kind of a suck up, but the senior writer consistently delivers writing worth reading. She does great interviews and profiles and has a touch with words that is rare. You never are disappointed when reading something by Molly Snyder. Endless fascination.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.