Treasurer, Cuyahoga County
When the foreclosure crisis flooded county treasurer Jim Rokakis’ office with paperwork from tens of thousands of lost homes, he did what more local political leaders ought to do: He saw that Cleveland’s old ways of doing things couldn’t handle the new challenge, so he started pushing innovative ideas and plans. He got the new county antiforeclosure program funded, and now it runs out of his office, counseling people to get out of, or stay away from, bad loans. Rokakis also pressured county courts until they sped up their handling of foreclosure cases. Now he proposes a foreclosure land bank so the government can control and improve lost properties. He’s lobbied Columbus, testified on Capitol Hill and told media outlets worldwide how predatory loans have ravaged Cleveland more than any other town.