First place: Michael Gorman, Houma Today

About this entry: From state politics to nationwide issues of race and police violence, Michael Gorman’s unapologetic columns are as informative about the issues he is discussing as they are impassioned about them.

Read online: How about leadership?, What did we do before cellphones?, We’re too lazy for this challenge

Follow Michael on Twitter @mikegormanla

A classic take-no-prisoners editorial column that tackles big issues and calls out those in power by name.

Second place: Robert Downen, Pekin Daily Times

About this entry: Whether rolling his eyes at the uproar over marriage equality or at former politician Aaron Schock comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln, or pointing out the frustrating national attitude toward avoidable tragedies, Robert Downen proves himself to be a master of both sarcasm and sincerity.

Read online: Where will you be for the gay Muslim Marxist takeover?, In the midst of tragedy, an invincible nation, Honest Aaron, or, the Great Equivocator

Follow Robert on Twitter @Robert_Downen

Downen ramps up the snark in an effective and cutting way to take down the hypocrites and just plain stupid people who seem to be ruling the day.

Third place: Michael Crumb, Ames Tribune

About this entry: Michael Crumb seamlessly ties his own experience into columns about both larger national issues like race relations to the pressing matters of local politics.

Read online: Let the “fort kids” voices be heard, The frothing over Starbucks’ race campaign, Jacobs family deserves some peace this holiday season

Follow Michael on Twitter @MJCrumb

Eloquent writing on issues big and small. I thought I knew where the Starbucks column was headed but Crumb surprised me — and I liked that.