NEW YORK CITY – Another Brooklynite has joined the race for mayor. This morning, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who has served City Council District 38—which includes Red Hook, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, and portions of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights, and Boro Park— for seven years, officially announced his run in a video.
The close to two-minute video began with a quote by John Steinbeck, which goes, “Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
“Today, our friends, families, and neighbors lose their homes to this recession, to this pandemic, to the wealthy developers who rezone our neighborhoods so they can add another zero to their net worth,” Menchaca says in the video. “We can do better. We must do better. That is why I’m running for mayor.”
Menchaca has been in City Council since 2013 when he unseated an incumbent. He currently serves as the Chair of the Committee on Immigration and fights fiercely for undocumented immigrants. He is also the first Mexican-American elected official in NY and the first openly gay man to hold office in Brooklyn. If he becomes mayor, he will be the first Latino and first openly gay person to hold the citywide position.
“As a kid raised in public housing by a single mother, I never imagined I could run for mayor of the greatest city in the world. My mom had only a third-grade education and would clean libraries to get by. I would go with her at four in the morning to help her clean and then go to school,” he said. “These are undoubtedly challenging times. But, we must rise to that challenge with a bold, progressive plan and not retreat to the status quo that has failed us.”
In June, Menchaca introduced legislation calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo “to bring charges to effectuate the removal of the Mayor for failing to protect the safety and promote the general welfare of the public.”
“After seven years of failed leadership, the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent spectacle of police brutality have revealed Mayor de Blasio to be the single greatest obstacle to peace and justice in New York City,” he said in a Medium post. “He must resign, or the Council must remove him from office, if we are to create a fair and just people’s budget that defunds the NYPD and joins a national movement to re-imagine public safety — not as punishment through police and prisons, but as community investment, starting with a pandemic recovery plan for all New Yorkers.”
Last year, we spoke to Menchaca about wanting a radical rethinking of rezonings when the Industry City expansion was in flux. At the time, he told us, “We have a large burden as a community and as a city to think through some of that; otherwise, it’s going to be developers running the show, being in the driver’s seat… Every single rezoning has been difficult [and] has left a bad taste in communities’ mouths. That’s not what we deserve. … That’s not the only way to do rezonings and to do development in the city.”
Menchaca is an avid bike-rider and a fierce cycling advocate. We met him last at a vigil for Em Samolewicz, who was killed in 2019, riding her bike. Menchaca said he had known Samolewicz from when she worked at the Jaya Yoga Center. In an emotional speech, he recalled, that he’d go in with a lot of anxiety and stuff he was carrying on his chest. He said he would go in feeling frazzled.
“She would hear me out. She would sit there and listen to my moment of anxiety,” Menchaca said at the time. “She would look at me and smile and say ‘Isn’t it better that you’re here now?'”
For Menchaca, this fight is personal.
“As a gay child of immigrants, discrimination is a pain I know all too well. We need a mayor to stand up to the wealthy and powerful and put our communities first. I love our city, and I love the people. And as mayor, I will fight for you every day,” he said. ” In times like these, we have to look out for each other, check in on one another, and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. We’ve been down before. Some doubt our ability to come back. But I know, New York’s brighter day is just around the corner. And we will make it together because New York is our home.”