Menchaca Secures Dem Nomination Over Crowded 38th Council District Field


Incumbent City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Red Hook, Sunset Park) last night ran away with the Democratic nomination for the 38th Council District seat. The win all but guarantees him re-election come the November general election, as there are no Republican candidates running in this heavily Democratic and predominantly immigrant district.

According to the unofficial vote total, Menchaca garnered 4,102 votes, or 48.6 percent of the electorate, compared to primary challenger Assemblymember Felix Ortiz’s (D-Sunset Park, Bay Ridge) 2,777 votes, or 32.9 percent of those who came out to the polls.

In third place was newcomer Chris Miao with 763 votes or 9 percent of the vote — he surpassed long-time Sunset Park community leaders Sara Gonzalez, herself a former city councilmember, and Delvis Valdes. Gonzalez earned 507 votes or 6 percent of the vote, while Valdes got 285 votes or 3.4 percent of the vote.

City Council Member Carlos Menchaca with supporters at his victory celebration. Photo by Heather J. Chin

“Unity!” declared Menchaca to his supporters at an election night victory party at Tacos Matamoros in the heart of Sunset Park’s Fifth Avenue. “I could not have done this without you. This is a night to remember all the work ahead of us. Every single person here said they want to work together for the community and we’re gonna take them up on that.”

After a fraught and sometimes divisive race between candidates each with their own strong base of support, the message for unification was also pushed by some of those candidates who did not win.

“The people voted and I want what’s best for them, so I want to work together with him to improve Sunset Park and Red Hook,” said Valdes, a local business leader who came to shake Menchaca’s hand in concession. “I thank everybody who supported me. It takes a lot to run a campaign and put yourself out there.”

Community activist and brief candidate Javier Nieves also hugged Menchaca, noting that “I pulled out and think I made the right choice, to put differences aside,” he said, noting that he believed Ortiz’s entrance into the race was more divisive than beneficial. “Now we need to work together and heal. I think Carlos will do that.”

The jubilant and congratulatory atmosphere at Menchaca’s event gave way to a more somber gathering five blocks away at Ortiz’s campaign headquarters, where Ortiz sat with supporters over plates of Chinese food, sounding a resigned, but hopeful note on the night’s events.

“Congratulations to him and I hope this campaign has given him lessons that constituent services is important, and that it is important to develop relationships with people and to have a better understanding of people’s needs,” said Ortiz, who, during candidate debates, had called out Menchaca’s short neighborhood office hours and sporadic attentiveness to community issues.

Ortiz also noted he’ll continue to be on hand to help Sunset Parkers with whatever they need.

“I’m very different from him, but I’ve worked with different ideologies in the Assembly and have worked to get very difficult bills done, so we’ll continue to work,” he said. “It’s a learning curve. I hope he learns.”