Alex B. Morse, Mayor, Holyoke, Massachusetts
The Challenge: The recent Brown University graduate now runs his hometown of 40,000, a city with one of the state's highest poverty rates.
How He Tackled It: Since taking office last winter, Morse has launched a needle exchange program and struck down plans for a casino ("Our economy shouldn't rely on gambling," he says), while providing support for a $168 million academic computing center that's under construction. Next up: hiring a director of arts, culture, and tourism to attract artists to the city, especially its abandoned warehouses.
Next Steps: While Morse has his detractors in the local government, he has engaged residents: "You'd be surprised," he says, "at the increase in attendance at City Council meetings!" —Amanda Angel