The 42-year-old Democrat saves a woman from a burning building. He'll also shovel your driveway in a snowstorm, and patrol your streets till 4 a.m.
Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., takes feeling your pain to a whole new level. This week, he suffered smoke inhalation and second-degree burns after bravely storming into a burning house to save a woman's life. The former tight end on Stanford University's football team (and a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law grad to boot) later said that the experience was "terrifying," but that he felt "blessed" that everyone in the house was alright. Booker's daring rescue is just the latest example of him going above and beyond the call of duty. Here, five reasons to think he's America's hardest-working civil servant:
1. He will punch through flames to save your life
Booker came home from a television interview to find that the house next door was on fire. He and his bodyguards told all the residents to flee, while Booker and police officer Alex Rodriguez made their way to the second floor to extricate a trapped woman. Rodriguez tried to hold Booker back, but the mayor reportedly responded, "If I don't go in, this lady's going to die." Booker disappeared into a wall of flame, and emerged an "eternity" later, according to Rodriguez, with the woman in tow. "I couldn't see anything but the flames," Booker later told CBS. For a moment, he thought they were trapped in the woman's apartment, but he "punched" his way through the fire until he found Rodriguez on the other side.
2. He will shovel your driveway in a blizzard
While residents of New York City were slamming Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his office's inept response to a 2010 blizzard, Booker was out on the streets shoveling snow, directing plow trucks, and communicating with his constituents via Twitter. One resident tweeted, "My street is covered nobody can get out 2 leave 4 work its been 2 days we need help," which prompted Booker to respond, "On it asap." And he meant that, literally.
3. He will patrol your streets looking for criminals
Newark is one of America's most crime-riddled cities, and Booker made reducing crime a priority when he became mayor in 2006. In addition to overhauling the city's law enforcement, installing surveillance cameras, and cracking down on drug-dealing, Booker for a while personally patrolled the "streets with his security team until 4 in the morning," says Sean Gregory at TIME. The drop in crime from all those efforts has been "stunning."
4. He will starve himself to clean up your neighborhood
In 1999, when Booker was still a city council member, he went on a 10-day hunger strike "in front of one of Newark's worst housing projects… to protest the city government's apparent indifference to open-air drug markets," says Lanny Davis at The Washington Times. In 2000, in a similar protest, he lived in a motor home on one of Newark's worst drug corners.
5. He will not ditch you for a better job
Booker turned down President Obama's offer to run the administration's Office of Urban Affairs, refuting criticism that he is using Newark merely as a platform to launch a national career. "I do believe, as immodest as it sounds, I'm the right guy at the right time for this city," Booker told TIME.