The latest candidate to jump into the race for the Upper East Side's 5th Council District didn't count on entering New York City politics. Growing up in a conservative-leaning area of Long Island, raised in a Republican family and living in various cities around the country, Domenico Minerva wasn't always certain where his liberal, Democratic values would fit. Minerva's family moved to Florida when he was in school, and after he graduated from college, he went to Atlanta to work for Morgan Stanley. When the stock market nosedived, he took some time off to help his sister and nephews out in Los Angeles, then started thinking about becoming a lawyer. He relocated to San Francisco for a job a law firm and, while there, the political bug finally bit him. "It's nice, because [San Francisco]'s a liberal setting, so the values were pretty much in line with everything that I already believed. Everyone is so active and involved with local politics that you can talk to anyone about politics," Minerva said in a recent interview. When he began doing just that-talking to everyone around him about local politics-he realized how transformative the process could be. "That really focused me and got me understanding that one person can make a difference; before that, I was sort of one of those pessimistic non-believers," Minerva said. After law school in New Orleans (he lost his apartment there during Hurricane Katrina), he got a job with a securities litigation firm and ended up living on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "When I moved to New York, I knew it was important for me to start getting involved. I'm a lawyer; I have a legal education, which really helps on the policy side," he said. He soon found the Lexington Democratic Club, where he served as treasurer and is now a third term president. Minerva is also a member of Community Board 8, and said that during his relatively short time in the neighborhood, his immersion in the local scene has prepared him for the challenges that would face a City Council representative. "I've been very involved. We've had very successful forums talking about issues that are facing the Upper East Side specifically or the city generally or the state," he said. Minerva shares many similar viewpoints and priorities for the East Side as current Council Member Jessica Lappin, who is likely running for Manhattan borough president in 2013, as well as fellow candidates Benjamin Kallos, also a politically active attorney, and Hill Krishnan, an NYU professor: opposition to the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (he lives right by the site), a concern for air quality (his wife is about to give birth to their first baby), advocating for more school seats. He said that he'd like to focus on getting more support for businesses along the Second Avenue Subway construction route and finding creative solutions for building new schools. He would push for better bike lanes and more green taxis, as well as more accountability of restaurants for renegade deliverymen on electric bikes. Minerva said that it's still early to be formulating more specific policies, but that he plans on continuing his work with the club and meeting people in the neighborhood to gear up for his campaign.
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