CREDIT: El Diario La Prensa NY/Andrés Duque
The headline of New York City's largest Spanish-language newspaper El Diario La Prensa NY says it all: Thirty-two-year-old Carlos Menchaca wins a historic Democratic primary to represent Brooklyn’s 38th District in the New York City Council. Menchaca is poised to become the first Mexican-American to be elected to the Council, as well as the first openly LGBT person to be elected in Brooklyn.
Menchaca won nearly 58 percent of the vote in the district that includes Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, and Red Hook. Menchaca easily won over incumbent Councilwman Sara González, who has held the office for eleven years. Menchaca decided to challenge González in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, reported Paul Schindler at Gay City News.
Sandy hit Red Hook with devastating impact. Living in nearby Park Slope at the time, Menchaca recalled jumping on his bike after the storm cleared and heading over to the area, where blocks and blocks were submerged under water, homes and businesses were shuttered and evacuated, and large housing projects, where residents depend on elevators, were without power.
"Government was nowhere to be seen," Menchaca recalled. Notably absent, he has since argued, was González, a point he said residents made over and over to him in the days he spent volunteering in the recovery effort. When, early this year, he decided to challenge her, the theme of a councilmember missing in action and the contrasting image of himself as "a candidate who is visible and active" became central to his campaign.
Menchaca was raised in El Paso, Texas. For several years he was the LGBT and HIV/AIDS community liaison for Speaker Christine Quinn’s office. Before that he served five years in Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office.
The general election is in November. The district overwhelmingly skews Democratic and Menchaca is heavily favored to win.
Three gay newcomers won their primaries yesterday for New York City Council: Menchaca, 25-year-old political wunderkind Ritchie Torres in the Bronx and R20 friend Corey Johnson in Manhattan. Three incumbents won their respective primaries: Queens Councilmen Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as Councilwoman Rosie Mendez of Manhattan. That would be six gay or lesbian councilmembers out of 51 seats. Menchaca and Johnson—as well as Mel Wymore, who is transgender and did not win his primary to represent an Upper West Side district—were endorsed by the New York Times on August 31.
This is brilliant. A huge round of congratulations to all of the candidates.