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    Ithaca, N.Y.

If you don’t like something, change it. That’s easier said than done, but Svante Myrick lives it. As a student at Cornell University, he decided that its home city of Ithaca, N.Y., was in need of help, so he decided to run for the Ithaca Common Council. He won, and at the age of 20, he became the youngest alderperson in the city’s history. There he worked to create tobacco-free zones, implemented zoning changes in the college-student–dominated sections of town, and created the Ithaca Youth Council. By the time he graduated, he knew he had found a home worth fighting for, and in 2011, he declared his intent to run for mayor.

People weren’t so sure. Cornell hasn’t always had the greatest relationship with its home city, and Myrick was young—very young. But he went on to defeat two Democrats in the primary election and won the general, becoming the city’s first mayor of color when he was sworn in at just 24 years old. As mayor, he managed to bridge a $3 million deficit while lowering taxes and has prioritized infrastructure and public transportation products. In 2019, he won his third term with 76% of the vote.