THEN: In 2002, Kate Schiele, a 27-year-old ad rep, plunged into the race for Metro's new position of regionwide president with zest, snug skirt suits and a Lincoln Navigator--thus posing a clear and present danger to the agency's mantra of smart growth and mass transit.

In the male-dominated worlds of politics and journalism, the sexy Schiele had the impact of Paris Hilton at a frat party. Despite minimal knowledge of Metro, her straight-talking style and embrace of urban sprawl made headlines. She edged out a former state senator in the primary and forced then-Metro Councilor David Bragdon into a runoff. After the election, the victorious Bragdon named her to a Metro community-involvement committee, and she's been out of the headlines ever since.

NOW: Still in advertising, although she was a consultant for several GOP legislative campaigns, Schiele says she has soured on the public process. She calls her public-involvement committee "useless," adding: "As far as I can see, citizen involvement is an exercise in futility as far as making public policy."

What became of her notorious SUV-loving lifestyle? "I sold the Navigator a year and a half ago," she says. "Isn't that sad? I'm in a little four-door sedan. It's hard. It's tough to run multiple errands, because you can't fit all your stuff in it."

Her new "little" car is a Jaguar XJ-8 luxury sport sedan. Being Kate Schiele, she concedes, is "a rough life."