And the winners are ...

By Allan I. Ross

After last year’s particularly nasty presidential campaign, Lansing voters got about a two-month reprieve before being thrust back into the heart of another election season. Sorry about that, but also, you’re welcome. At least in this election you could realistically increase the business of your favorite local record store/coffee shop/sushi bar, or heap much-deserved acclaim on a photographer/environmentalist/bartender who could use a shot of local celebrity.

At the City Pulse/WLNS Top of the Town Awards, “best tattoo parlor” gets equal footing with “best antique shop,” and votes for “best breakfast” outnumbered votes for “best politician” by over 1,300. It says a lot about City Pulse readers, actually — we may need to step up our breakfast coverage.

This year, we split up the voting process into two rounds, giving some contenders a competitive edge. In the first stage, as usual, anyone could nominate anything and anyone could then vote for them. This was obviously the most democratic way to start things, but nominations and votes sometimes took bizarre twists, resulting in a glut of popular, if not actually representative, selections. None of us had ever heard of a local butcher named Leatherface; we highly doubt that the Ingham County Jail is really the “best place to meet singles;” and an Internet search for a mid-Michigan lawyer named A. Ded Juan yielded no hits, despite more than 50 votes for him/her.

Instead, a second round was added that would cull the top five from each category, opening the door to a more effective voting process that would focus on contenders who could then rigorously campaign for themselves, as they saw fit. Happily, smear tactics were a non-issue. Round 1 drew 13,411 voters, about the same number as last year, and 5,930 came back to help us select the winners in Round 2. As predicted, there are many familiar faces — buon giorno, Deluca’s; que pasa, El Azteco — but there was also a surprise or two at the top of the heap. For the first time in six years, “the angriest mayor in America” didn’t win best politician. Guess he was either too angry this year, or not angry enough.

And here are the results — the winners of the 2013 Top of the Town Awards. You can find the full results over the next nine pages. We’ve also included some staff picks for unofficial categories that fly under the radar (and, most would agree, deservedly so), but provide food for thought for future years. This year, we added some new categories based on reader suggestions (best gluten-free, best hip-hop) and dumped some of the less popular ones.

But no, we are not going to add “best glory hole” to next year’s competition. Sorry, MonkeyNutz69, but thanks for the suggestion.

Click here for the full list of winners.