Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez Vs. Carlos Menchaca

Not up for debate: incumbent claims rival misled about post-hurricane work

The Brooklyn Paper
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Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez is accusing challenger Carlos Menchaca of distorting the nature of the work he did in her district following Hurricane Sandy — and is vowing not to engage with her rival unless he comes clean.

Gonzalez (D–Sunset Park) has alleged that the younger Democrat has depicted himself as a volunteer in the disaster relief effort in Red Hook — when in reality, he was on the ground there as a paid staffer of the New York City Council.

“Sara’s opponent has consistently misstated his claimed accomplishments and qualifications and failed to share with the voters that his work in Red Hook was on behalf of the Council,” said Gonzalez spokesman Michael Tobman.

Tobman said that Gonzalez would continue to refuse to attend debates with Menchaca — like the one she skipped on Aug. 22 — until the challenger admits the truth.

But Menchaca insists that he has always been up front about his role in the recovery — and that his presence as an aide to Council Speaker Christine Quinn was common knowledge in the storm-shattered neighborhood. The one-time staffer to Borough President Marty Markowitz also claimed that the incumbent never arrived on the scene.

“I was walking around, and people would say ‘There’s Carlos, he’s with the speaker,’ ” said Menchaca. “Sara Gonzalez did not show up.”

Tobman disputed Menchaca’s claim that Gonzalez was missing in action, and added an interesting twist — claiming that, since Menchaca was there as a council staffer, he was essentially representing for her as well.

“She was there, and was there by him being there,” said Tobman.

Both candidates have submitted photographs to this paper as evidence that they worked in Red Hook following the storm.

Besides Sunset Park and Red Hook, the contested district includes Windsor Terrace, Boerum Hill, Greenwood Heights, and parts of Bay Ridge and Borough Park. Gonzalez, who grew up in the district, entered office in 2003 after winning a special election to replace disgraced Councilman Angel Rodriguez. She is eligible to run again because she was in office when term limits were extended.

Menchaca, who grew up in El Paso, Texas, moved to the district in February after his work in the hurricane relief effort.

The Democratic primary is Sept. 10.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Monica Byrne from Red Hook says:
As a co founder of ReStore Red Hook, and the Red Hook Coalition, who was (is) actively coordinating relief efforts in the community, I can very clearly say Carlos Menchaca has nothing to "come clean" about, or to apologize for.

Carlos came to Red Hook to act as speaker Quinn's liason to the community post Sandy, he did that, but he did so much more.

Most of our elected officials (whom we don't see in the normal course of business, because Red Hook is often an after thought, a small appendage to their bigger districts located elsewhere) were on the ground in the 2 weeks following Sandy, and of course there were numerous photo ops..... But Carlis Menchaca went above and beyond, distinguishing himself from even the others sent from the speaker's office.

He became one of us, he sat with us late every night, planning, sharing resources, organizing the next days efforts. He coordinated volunteer efforts, and helped wherever needed, including getting our local medical clinic reopened.

He also saw what we all saw, that the actual real resources coming into the community were appalling. That there was virtually no help for any of the small businesses destroyed, or the hundreds of individuals who rented their homes, list all of their possessions, and had to find new homes.

Inspired by what he saw in the community, Carlos decided to move to Red Hook, and run to represent us.
He has never misrepresented who he is, what he's done, or what he stands for.

I bear Sara Gonzalez no ill will, I have tried to have a good working relationship with her, and her office in the past, but the truth is, Red Hook has not gotten the representation it deserves. This has been true for a long time, whether we're talking about Pier 11 being leased to a company with hundreds of trucks, strongly against the entire community's will, or how the Cruise Ships pollute our community, where our children already have amongst the highest rates of asthma in the city, or the EPA plan for Gowanus and Red Hook, when she left meeting before hearing her constituents comments. Unfortunately, this year, when we really needed support, and money in the community to rebuild, Sara was missing. I was stunned when I testified at the City Council Sandy hearings on Small Business recovery to find her missing again.

It is time for Red Hook to have a seat at the table, and a voice in the conversations that affect us. It is time for Red Hook to be more than an afterthought.

That's the simple truth of this race, and nasty allegations and insinuations will not change it.
Aug. 28, 2013, 10:46 am
mariposa from Red Hook says:
Voting for Sara, no question.
She knocked on my door to ask if everything was ok the day after Sandy.
Carlos didn't show up until he was paid to.
Aug. 28, 2013, 1:32 pm
Jesse from Brooklyn says:
So why won't she show up at the debate, again? Seems like a great place to level attacks. No need to do it through a paid spokesman.
Aug. 28, 2013, 1:45 pm
Harriet from Bed Stuy says:
Just move from Sunset!
If i were still there, i'd vote for sara, thought she did a good job while i was a resident.
Any politician could always do better, but at least i know she genuinely cared
Aug. 28, 2013, 2:50 pm
Anna from South Slope says:
Huh? Incumbent refuses to debate until the challenger responds to an accusation the incumbent herself ? Isn't that what debates are for? It sounds fishy to me. She's dodging really facing her opponent in public forum. Not cool.
Aug. 28, 2013, 4:13 pm
jay from nyc says:
not debating him is giving up a prime opportunity to spear him with his own words, and it just makes you look week. Not a good move, unless you are so far up in the polls where there is no benefit or upside from a debate, but it creates an opportunity for something bad to occur.
Aug. 28, 2013, 6:53 pm
John from Gowanus says:
Carlos moved to the neighborhood a few months ago so he can get elected. Simple. Period.
Can't believe people fall for these guys...
Aug. 28, 2013, 7:07 pm
Ellen from Sunset Park says:
Too bad we have been electing a councilperson for the past 2 terms who has double standards. She claims that Carlos has misrepresented himself, which he hasn't, but her campaign literature says she never is told how to vote. Why did she vote for a third term for the mayor and then is now allowed to run again too. The public, who "hires" the mayor and all elected officials, voted twice to allow two terms. She decided that we don't know what we are doing and allowed that to be ignored and now she can run again. I don't know what is worse, the fact that she may have been told how to vote or that she believed that the mayor and she deserved an extra term. I want someone who respects us.
Aug. 29, 2013, 9:26 am
Melissa from Sunset Park says:
What is she so worried about? The only truth she can say about Carlos is that he was born in Texas. To put the record straight, Sara Gonzalez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
I think it is a further insult from her campaign to say she didn't need to come to Red Hook during the Sandy relief efforts since Carlos was there representing the City Council, and therefore, representing her. This is her district, she should be there personally. But she is known as NO SHOW GONZALEZ, so why stop now?
If she really cared about getting re-elected and showing why she should be voted for, she owes it to every voter in her district to tell them why. Did she forget that we live in America where we all have the right to vote, and where elected officials have to answer to the voters and prove over and over why they should be in office? We don't have royalty who have a birthright to an office.
She hasn't delivered to this community for the past 11 years so why would we want her to be in for 4 more years? She couldn't even get the city to complete the reconstruction of 5th Avenue, or to do at least a complete repaving of the avenue, which is the main commercial strip of Sunset Park and hasn't had this done in close to 25 years!
Aug. 29, 2013, 9:46 am
George from 1984 says:
Positively Orwellian! Carlos can't accuse me of not being there post-Sandy because he was working for the city council and I am a council member, so he was there representing me.
Aug. 29, 2013, 10:09 am
Tony from Sunset Park says:
Melissa - the business owners along 5th ave protested the reconstruction when the economy went south. Many of them would have been further devastated by constant road work an lack of traffic.
Sara put in $ for the project.
The city listened to the small business owners who would have been put out and had to fire their employees.
But maybe that doesn't matter to some people.
Aug. 29, 2013, 2:06 pm
jon b from south brooklyn says:
Carlo is dimwitted, transplanted puppet of Nydia. he is simply seeking opportunity out of people's hardship and has no real ties or experience in Sunset Park or Red Hook. He should just go get a job at Brooklyn's famed Apple Store.
Sept. 3, 2013, 4:04 pm
Jimmy from Sunset Park says:
jon b, do you know if Sara needs the address for "Brooklyn's famed Apple Store" now?
Sept. 13, 2013, 5:43 am

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