Men-shocka! Challenger Carlos Menchaca unseats Sara Gonzalez in Sunset Park council primary

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Newcomer Carlos Menchaca beat out incumbent Sara Gonzalez for the 38th District council seat in a surprise primary upset on Tuesday night.

Menchaca, a former aide to Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Borough President Markowitz, creamed the 10-year incumbent in the Democratic primary, taking 58 percent of the vote in the 38th District, which includes Red Hook, South Slope, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, and parts of Borough Park and Bay Ridge.

The 32-year-old winner chalked his victory up to beating the pavement and listening to voters while his opponent sat on her laurels.

“It was time for this community to elect a public servant — someone that is going to serve this community to its fullest ability,” said Menchaca, who praised himself for claiming to be the first openly gay Brooklyn pol, the first Mexican-American councilmember, and for winning against an incumbent.

“I’m so excited to be making history tonight,” Menchaca told the crowd gathered at his Tuesday night victory party in Sunset Park’s Saint Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church.

During the campaign, Menchaca lashed out at Gonzalez for being missing in action at council meetings and public events. Now he says he will be sure to show up once he takes office.

“I’m going to be present. I’m going to be visible and vocal,” he said. “I’m going to be someone that’s on the streets talking directly to the people of Sunset Park about the needs.”

Gonzalez was gone from her election party minutes after her loss became certain. People in her camp said that the defeat came as a shock and that she needed to be with members of her family.

“Certainly she is surprised,” said Gonzalez’s campaign spokesman Miguel Hernandez. “She has lived in and loved this community for decades.”

Gonzalez entered office in 2002 after winning a special election to replace Angel Rodriguez and her spokesman said that, while she is upset, she will keep her cool on her way out.

“She is going to leave the council the same way she entered and that’s with dignity,” he said. “She’s hoping that her community gets nothing but the best it deserves.”

Barring a far more shocking loss to a write-in candidate in the November general election, Menchaca will take office in January.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Jimmy from Sunset Park says:
Well, on the upside, No-Show Sara at least was present at her election party, if only for a few minutes. That's more than you can say about most of her other on-site requirements. It'll be nice to finally have a council member who actually cares about the district they represent. Sara can now continue to do what she does best ... hiding.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:02 am
tee gee from sunset park says:
Dignity and Sara Gonzalez do not go together. Incompetence & Sara, yes. Arrogance & Sara, yes. She never loved this neighborhood, it was merely a paycheck for her. The two most positive things accomplished during her reign were started by civic activists and she climbed on board for a free ride. Now maybe we can get 5th Avenue paved - delayed since Dinkins! While i revel at her loss, I am more impressed by the waste of $168,000 by real estate tycoons trying to put her back in office. And now several not for profit directors can breathe easy after threats by Sara that they would be in trouble for supporting Carlos.
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:19 am
John from Sunset Park says:
would make sense - except now all those non-profits are going to see their funding slashed, our parks and schools are going to get less capital $, etc.
I'm sure many minor accomplishments will be tweeted by the new councilman as if they actually meant anything - that's the 'progressive' modus operandi (just tweet something that is a basic part of your job and it makes you seem like you're doing so much) - but guaranteed day care funding numbers, esl funding numbers, park projects, all will suffer contributing to a more rapid gentrification of sunset park.
I can't wait for tweets about a new tree being planted, pics from community board meetings, yes votes on mundane legislation and 'progressive' being part of countless hash-tags.
These days, that's what people value in their elected officials.
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:54 am
Brook Llewellyn Shepard from Red Hook says:
I've met Carlos on many occasions, and he's never been afraid to speak his mind - even when he disagreed with us.

I'm happy he won and I look forward to his further involvement in Red Hook.

He's a good guy.
Sept. 11, 2013, 2:02 pm
Mike from Sunset Park says:
I think Sara is an incredible person and did a great job.
I wish Carlos the best of luck in the Council.
Sept. 11, 2013, 2:32 pm
Angie from Sunset Park says:
Sarah being in that office for so long resulted in absolutely nothing. She was not a fighter for the neighborhood. It was often commented that she didn't even live in the district. The gentrification that has taken place in the neighborhood has to do with the fact that she did nothing to protect or prepare the neighborhood from such changes. Se saw the writting on the wall and saw it as payday for herself.

So I would love to know how her not being in that office results in less funding for the neighborhood when she was never fighting for those funds. There is only one top preforming school in the whole district and that's not because Sarah had anything to do with it. The principal and parents did. When this same school won the nationally acclaimed blue ribbon prize Sarah didn't even show up for the ceremony honoring the school's accomplishments. The school got itself a new playground and again not because of Sarah but becasue of BP Markowitz, NPOs and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. I guess Sarah couldn't be bothered to et up from her couch in Jersey. Good riddance to bad rubbish!
Sept. 11, 2013, 2:56 pm
Rob from Sunset from Sunset Park says:
I don't think Menchaca is the right guy for the job. He talks a good game but hasn't presented any real substance behind his sales pitch. He's a West coast guy who's new to our area, I'm not sure he understands Sunset Park. To me he seems like an opportunist who is using our district as a stepping stone to further his political career. I hope I'm wrong.
Sept. 11, 2013, 3:02 pm
Spencer from Ditmas Park says:
Rob from Sunset, Your are spot-on my friend. While the people of Red Hook deserved better representation, I don't think that person is Menchaca. You hit the nail on the head when it comes to this guy; a smile in your face and sh!t on you behind your back. All this talk about him being openly LGBT....ask him about his closeted boyfriend whose parents, living in another country, know absolutely nothing about the two of them. Actually, I don't know if they're still together. Menchaca is the spawn of the math.
Sept. 11, 2013, 3:07 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I don't live in the district, but my kids go to preschool in it and I have been following the race, so I hope residents of Sunset Park won't take it too amiss for me to comment. Sunset Park is a great neighborhood with a lot of change happening. Red Hook, too, fits that description. They're both venerable communities with a lot of tradition and history. So when a sitting council-member won't engage with her constituents at public meetings or debate with challengers who think they can do a better job than she is, it says that she doesn't respect the judgement of the people who pay her salary. Americans and Brooklynites are fair-minded people who respect hard work and achievement over hereditary right. Menchaca did not grow up in Brooklyn, but he fought for the right to be taken seriously. Gonzalez, on the other hand, took it as a given, resting on her laurels, that of course she should enjoy the support of Sunset Park voters by right of birth and upbringing. Brooklyn can be a divided place, a place divided by ethnicity, race, culture, and religion, and much of our political community reflects that, unfortunately; so it's refreshing to see a race that taps the deeper vein of America, that hard-work and effort trumps legacy, divine-right, if you will.

To councilman-elect Menchaca, I wish you well in your first term. I hope you staff your offices who will work their hearts out to make daily life better for the people in your district. But I also convey the warning that the impulse that swept you into office can also easily un-seat you, if you choose complacency over service. Please be the representative that Sunset Park needs now, in this time.
Sept. 11, 2013, 3:27 pm
Linda from Sunset Park says:
I have lived in Sunset Park for 30 years, and I have seen elected officials come and go.

What the article doesn't say is that former Councilmember Angel Rodriguez - whom Gonzalez replaced after he was convicted of bribery and sent to jail for five years - had hand picked Gonzalez as his replacement. And, frankly, it's been downhill from there. She has been a no show more often than not., as has delivered almost nothing for the neighborhood. All the neighbors on my block that I talked to were more than happy to kick her out of office and to vote for Carlos.

We finally have hope that after years of bad representation in the City Council, we might have finally elected someone who gives a damn. I guess we'll see.
Sept. 11, 2013, 4:18 pm
Nelson Hernandez from Sunset Park says:
Que sera ,sera !!!
Que Sara, Sara???
Just don't sleep on Sara Gonzalez during the next four months. She will not be leaving quietly, but will be leaving a mess for Menchaca. She will cash in all her chips on her way out. Her political career is over. You could stick a fork in her, she is done. Maybe Paul Mak has a job for her or Lutheran Medical Center,or even her own reality show.
Sept. 11, 2013, 4:52 pm
Brenda lee from Sunset Park says:
I'm so happy she is out of office..She became to cocky.I campaigned for Sarah several years ago and she was so nice and promised to help get me a job..When I went into her office a couple of weeks later to speak to her her staff was so rude!And for thanksgiving she always gave the same people a turkey!!She didn't give a —— about this community!!!
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:32 pm
Harry Lopez from Sunset Park says:
I'm so happy this lady is out of office she just uses people.One winter I didn't have any money to buy my children gifts,so I turned to my community leader for help,all I asked for was for some toys for my children or even a ticket for her Christmas party,she refused me and ,my children an opportunity to attend her 3 kings event she said all the tickets where given out and was extremely mean.All the people she caters to are her lambe ojos!!!
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:39 pm
Ethan from 33rd ED says:
Wow. That's quite an epic. Thanks for the remarks folks. Right down the street, who'd have known.
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:59 pm
Lydia Mendoza from Red Hook says:
Gonzalez has always been pathetic; Menchaca might be improvement, it's doubtful he could be worse.
Sept. 12, 2013, 12:08 am
Edgar from The Bronx says:
Showing up counts. Thats why Sara lost. She just stayed home.
Sept. 12, 2013, 1:37 am
Lucy Plasencia from Sunset park says:
I lived in Sunset Park for fifthy-seven years. I'm happy to say congratulations to Carlos Menchaca; he is now the Councilman. I say it is about time the spell be broken from that witch Sara Gonzlez. Amen! She has personally done me wrong and evil towards my son. And the world does go round. Sara Gonzalez has done wrong to many. She is a liar and two face. She will reap what she sow.
Sept. 12, 2013, 5:43 am
Parson Brownlow from Sunset Park says:
Sara Gonzalez will certainly burn in hell, where even her corruption-gotten-riches won't be enough to save her nasty feet from the fire of retribution.
Sept. 12, 2013, 6:50 am
tee gee from sunset park says:
As a life long sunset parker, an activist and parent and grandparent, I as so glad to see so many positive comments about our new Councilmember. But I am shocked at the level of "anger" or ill-feeling about Sara. And I plead guilty too. I woke up this morning and instead of just looking ahead to a great future, I am still angry with Sara. She stole from us, she needs more punishment that just losing the election. As for us getting less money - absolutely WRONG - Sara did not know how to access city funds. Paul Mak & LMC knew how and just had Sara sign-off and knew where to go. But Sara lost at least $100,000 that I am aware of (City money has to come to the districts thru a city agency). Sara lost track and let the money go to an agency that refused to release it for what it was ear-marked for and as hard as we tried, we could not get the money back - and we constantly went to her with clear instructions "we need you to do this and this and this..." and her staff did not know how to do it.
Sunset Park will flourish under Carlos.
Sept. 12, 2013, 7:24 am
in the hood says:
"He's a West coast guy who's new to our area, I'm not sure he understands Sunset Park. "

What does that even mean?

He has the drive and the personality and the energy. Sara got lazy - and as others have mentioned one of the most recent greatest accomplishments in Sunset Park - the new high school - had nothing to do with her. As for the gentrification of Sunset Park, I think it is safe to say, that has actually been "slow." For that I am actually thankful.
Sept. 12, 2013, 10:24 pm
bored at work from carroll gardens says:
@ John from Sunset Park on 9.11.13 @ 10:54 am

Instead of being a whiny apologist for Gonzales, how about some facts? Citizens Union reports that Gonzales ranked 35 out of 51 Council Members by district in combined discretionary capital and operating budget expenses for FY 09-12. See here:

And given that Mechaca is aligned with the Progressive Caucus, which is clearly rising in power in the Council, and deBlasio, a self-described progressive will become Mayor, its hard to see how Menchaca will do worse in securing fuding for the district than his predecessor.

In case you didnt know, Gonzales was supported by "Jobs for NY" a Political Action Committee and front for the Real Estate Board for NY. Hard to find a more pro-development and pro-gentrification group. How does the election of Menchaca support gentrification.

As many others have pointed out, Mr. Menchaca is energetic and hard working, two traits sorely lacking in Ms. Gonzales. The district will certainly be well served by Mr. Menchaca. It really couldnt have done much worse than it was.
Sept. 13, 2013, 1:16 pm
Vinny from former Sunset park resident says:
I was not surprised that Sara Gonzales was finally kicked out of her office. She does not not care for the people she presents at all!! What she cares is her election and her paychecks by the taxpayers .

In 2011, two students got bullied and injured physically by anohter same student at PS 105. The parents of the injured students called and emailed her and her office aids regarding this serious bullying that has long existed at PS 105, how the school administrators has not taken actions seriously to stop the bullying, how they tried to cover the truth and not to punish the bully, and how they jeopardized the students and parents' rights and benifits, Sara Gonzales and her aids did not even give any single response despite a serveral follow-up phone calls by us, needless to say that she was willing to get involved in talking to the principal at PS 105. On the contrary, we did get reponses and assitance from the office of City Comptroller John Liu - his aids called us back and provided further advice and assistance.

In light of the above comments made by our neighbors, there is no doubt that Sara has been a waste of taxpayers' money and has delivered almost nothing to this community she has presented. She is mostly concerned with her own personal benifits. And she is a lazy, mean and selfish lazy. What a big disgrace! Shame on you, Sara!!!
Sept. 14, 2013, 8:41 am
Nadia Coqui from Red Hook says:
Gonzales was, is and, if she doesn't reform herself, a criminal P.O.S. and a shameless "progressive" fraud; she's only lucky she had a Hispanic name that could fool people... for a little while anyway.

The next vote against her should be that of a Grand Jury indicting her on myriad corruption and tax charges.
Sept. 14, 2013, 7:19 pm
Pete from Windsor Terrace says:

I too voted for Menchaca, and I hope he serves our district well.
I hope he's more progressive than His mentor,
Christine Quinn,who was fake progressive,
and had to be taught a huge lesson by the voters
I was not impressed by Sarah Gonzales, but I'm
amazed at how many people actually hate her,
-and how mean she and her staff were, according
to the posts above.
So, good -and power to the people!

Sept. 26, 2013, 7:42 pm
Timmy Tiger from Sunset Park says:
RE: Menchaca being a "West Coast" guy, last time I looked El Paso was in Texas, a very poor and troubled border town and pretty far away from the Coast and all the stereotypical nonsense that the one dude's comment was meant to elicit.

I've lived in 4 different states and I've never seen a worse level of race-baiting politics as I have in NYC. Since Puerto Ricans dominate Hispanic politics in this city, I am actually shocked that a young intelligent non-Puerto Rican Hispanic could win that seat. I hope he does well, I hope he didn't learn too much from that ass-clown Quinn and I hope that education can improve in neighborhoods such as Sunset Park so that one day the citizens can make intelligent decisions for their communities based on merit and talent and not on the type of race-based entitlement that scum like Sara G represent. Maybe one day, the people up in the Bronx and Harlem and East New York will reach that goal as well. Baby steps, people....
Oct. 17, 2013, 5:52 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: