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Carlos Menchaca Looks to Areas Forgotten by Government in City Council Race

 Carlos Menchaca, the first openly LGBT Mexican-American to run for City Council from Brooklyn's 38th District.
Carlos Menchaca, the first openly LGBT Mexican-American to run for City Council from Brooklyn's 38th District.
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Dan Morris

RED HOOK — There are many firsts in Carlos Menchaca’s campaign for City Council.

If elected from Brooklyn’s 38th District, he will be the first Mexican -merican to be elected to City Council, as well as the first openly gay person to be elected from Brooklyn, he said.

Menchaca, a former community liaison for Speaker Christine Quinn’s office, will run against incumbent Councilwoman Sara González, who has held the office for the district since 2002, that includes Red Hook, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights and Bay Ridge Towers.

Looking to give the community “responsive leadership with a progressive voice,” Menchaca said he’s running so that “government finallys show up,” a sentiment is echoed within the Red Hook community who feels like they’ve been forgotten by city government, he said.

“I’m running to change that,” said Menchaca, who filed to run for Council in January after stepping down as a liaison.

In his last two weeks of campaigning, Menchaca raised $40,000, he said in a press release, although it is not yet reflected in his campaign filings.

In comparison, fellow Democrat González has raised almost $17,000 in the last two months.

González has raised a total of $64,506, according to the most recent New York City Campaign Finance Board documents available.

Menchaca has also landed endorsements from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, whose re-election campaign he worked on, as well as SEIU Local 32BJ, one of the country’s largest labor unions.

The City Council candidate was heavily involved in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, particularly in Red Hook, where he worked with the Office of Emergency Management to create infrastructure that would support the community, like opening volunteer and distribution hubs, medical pop-up clinics and to relay information from the people to the agency and vice-versa.

He said he hopes to help in rebuilding small businesses affected by Sandy, he said.

It’s clear that Menchaca’s identity will figure strongly in his run to City Council. An openly gay man, Menchaca said he hopes to tackle issues within the LGBT community, particularly supporting increased funding for LGBT homeless youth, a group, he said, that continues to be neglected.

Menchaca was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, where he lived with his mother and seven siblings. Growing up on food stamps and public housing, he understood early on that government was essential for a family’s survival.

“I feel like I’ve been fighting my whole life,” he said. “I made a commitment to make our lives better.”

Supporting immigrant entrepreneurs is high on the list issues he hopes to address in City Council, which also include preserving affordable housing and improving public schools.

He also will fight for “fair development on the waterfront that can provide real opportunities for living wage jobs and affordable housing,” according to his website.

As a former community organizer and public servant, Menchaca said he wants to use his experience to help economically vulnerable residents that include recent immigrants, seniors, low-income families and small business owners.

But above all, Menchaca said he wants to be “a visible and vocal advocate” and show up in areas that the government seems to have forgotten.

“I want to be that candidate,” he said.