Menchaca Becomes First Mex-Am. Elected in NYC

Carlos Menchaca celebrates with supporters waving a Mexican and American flag in Brooklyn Tuesday night. (Photo by Pamela Granda)

Carlos Menchaca celebrates with supporters waving a Mexican and American flag in Brooklyn Tuesday night. (Photo by Pamela Granda)

Carlos Menchaca made history Tuesday night becoming the first Mexican-American elected to New York City public office, as well as being the first openly gay public official in Brooklyn. Menchaca defeated three-term incumbent Sara Gonzalez in City Council District 38.

“The people united will never be defeated,” Menchaca, 33, chanted with supporters during the campaign’s victory celebration at the Saint Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sunset Park.

“I am so excited to be in front of these amazing returns because you need to be proud of the work we did together,” he said. He thanked supporters and numerous groups that endorsed him, including 32BJ SEIU, the property workers union which made the unusual move of going against an incumbent.

Menchaca ran on a progressive platform, vowing to address the needs of the working class and immigrant communities. The district covers Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Gowanus and parts of Park Slope and Bay Ridge.

A crowd of young faces waved a Mexican and U.S. flag at the victory party which included Rep. Nydia Velazquez, the districts’s congresswoman in Washington.

“I have to say that six months ago, people told me that I was nuts,” said Velázquez. “They told me why are you doing this – why are you getting into a fight with an incumbent? You know why? Because this is the right thing to do.”

Menchaca earned a clear victory, winning 3,997 votes (57.6 percent) to Gonzalez’s 2,946 (42.4 percent) with 99 percent of precincts reporting. There’s no one running on the Republican line in the general election in the district meaning his primary victory makes it official.

The win gives the city’s 320,000 Mexican residents their first elected official. Activist Manuel Guerrero said he organized a volunteer operation that registered over 500 Mexican voters in the district, which could have accounted for half of the winning votes.

Among these volunteers was Michelle Flores, 14, the campaign’s youngest.

“I’m really proud that he won. He inspires me,” the Mexican-American teen said. “In the past, I wasn’t sure if I should be a politician, but…now I’m considering it.”

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