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Early Bloomer

Brian Mahanna, 28, is a policy adviser to the mayor’s reelection campaign.

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Ijoined Bloomberg’s team as an intern in 2003, when his popularity was at something like 32 percent. I worked on the logistics of Christo’s Gates. It was really something to be there in the cold with the mayor at the unfurling of the first gate; that was the first time I felt like I was part of something big, something that affected the city in a real way. After the election, I went to Yale Law, represented Guantánamo detainees, and worked at Goldman—but I always knew I’d come back. I’m one of two policy advisers; I handle the MTA, public safety, economic development and small business, and charter schools. I develop and articulate the mayor’s vision, ensure his record is accurately portrayed, and am involved in rapid response to attacks.

I’m not big on tilting at windmills, and I know it’s never going to be a perfect city. You spend days, weeks, months working on one policy piece, and the resolution boils down to a single press conference or something. It’s weird to see how normal people see this process. My parents live in Grasmere, Staten Island, and they’re not civically active. I mean, they vote, but not much more than that. And there was this thing where a dead-end street near them was going to be revived, and my dad was like, “Can you fix this? Can you kill this?” And, no, it’s not like that, Dad. Sorry.

Citywide elections are November 3. Mahanna plans to take the bar exam in February.

As told to Richard Morgan.

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