Occupation: President, Cook County Board of Commissioners
This reformer has managed to keep her sterling reputation in a town full of tarnished politicos and get stuff done: slashing patronage, halving the county's $487 million deficit after her first year, and trimming a bloated health budget. "She has used the bully pulpit masterfully to push some stunning policy initiatives," says Paula Wolff, senior executive at Metropolis Strategies. And while her proposed "violence tax" on bullets and guns didn't fly, the measure could stage a comeback in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy last December. Adds Wolff: "Her attention to justice policy in Cook County is nothing short of miraculous."
Photograph: ANNA KNOTT