Late Arrivals, Early Departures: Who’s Coming and Going in Brooklyn Elections

Late Arrivals, Early Departures: Who’s Coming and Going in Brooklyn Elections
Carlos Menchaca (Image: William Alatriste/Campaign)

We’re just under three months away from New York City’s June 22nd primary elections which, in this heavily Democratic borough and city, will likely be the decisive race in many contests. Brooklynites will have the opportunity to vote for their next mayor, borough president and council member alongside a slate of judicial candidates.

But even at this late stage, the field of candidates continues to evolve. Here’s who’s left the race (and jumped in) in recent days.

Menchaca drops out of mayoral contest

Carlos Menchaca, who currently represents Sunset Park and Red Hook in the City Council, announced Wednesday morning that he was suspending his campaign for mayor.

“It is clear to me that my path to a primary victory is no longer attainable,” Menchaca wrote in a statement published to Facebook.

Thanking his volunteers and campaign contributors, Menchaca wrote that “together we put forward progressive ideas on Universal Basic Income, housing and police accountability. We should be proud of the ideas we fought for.”

Menchaca has been involved in high-profil fights over land use issues in recent years, most notably the failed rezoning proposal for Industry City, which would have added over 1 million square feet of commercial and industrial spaces to the waterfront complex.

But he failed to gain traction amongst a crowded field of mayoral competitors; according to a financial disclosure submitted to the NYC Campaign Finance Board last week, Menchaca raised only about $87,000 in private donations, a small fraction of what the top contenders have received.

“My work now continues in the city council,” Menchaca’s statement concludes, “where I will be fighting for a fair city budget that will rebuild our communities hit hardest by COVID and help to shape a brighter future for the city I love.”

Menchaca did not say whether he would endorse another candidate in the race. The most recent public opinion poll found that half of city Democratic voters are still undecided on who they’ll support. Top-ranking Andrew Yang garnered the support of 16% of respondents; behind him was Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams with 10%, and Maya Wiley, former legal counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio with 6%.

Another candidate, former Department of Veterans’ Services commissioner Loree Sutton, dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Trisha Ocona jumps into the race for Brooklyn Borough President

East Flatbush real estate broker Trisha Ocona joined the race for Brooklyn Borough President last week.

In a press release announcing her campaign, Ocona said she wanted to “preserve Brooklyn’s brand as one of the greatest cities in the world,” and wrote that “her main agenda is combating predatory housing practices.”

Ocona previously chaired the Housing Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 17. She is the owner of the real estate firm realestateOCONA, LLC, and teaches real estate classes at Medgar Evers College.

She also sits on the New York State Department of State’s Board of Real Estate where, according to her LinkedIn bio, she and other board members “share regulatory duties with The Division of Licensing Services and has the power to set the rules and regulations of New York State Real Estate, and help create and enforce the NYS real estate laws.”

In 2018, Ocona participated in a rally against a homeless shelter at 200 Linden Boulevard in East Flatbush. The year before that, she appeared alongside then-Council Member Jumaane Williams at a press conference to voice concerns about proposed construction projects in the neighborhood.

More recently, she’s been pushing back against real estate solicitors looking to buy up homes in East Flatbush.

Former Assembly Candidate Mark Szuszkiwicz Joins Coney Island Council Race

Mark Szuszkiewicz, a Bay Ridge Republican who garnered headlines last year during a state Assembly race after reports that he made social media posts in apparent support of the QAnon conspiracy theory, jumped into the race for a Coney Island Council seat.

Szuszkiewicz filed to run for the 47th Council District (Coney Island, Sea Gate, Gravesend, Bensonhurst), currently represented by term-limited Council Member Mark Treyger.

“I’m watching Brooklyn get destroyed, I’m watching New York get destroyed, I’m watching the entire country get destroyed because of politicians that either have no idea what they’re doing, or are intentionally destroying our country to implement their socialist agenda,” Szuszkiewicz said in a video announcing his campaign.

Szuszkiewicz came close to defeating incumbent Democrat Mathylde Frontus in the race for the 46th State Assembly District seat last year, despite raising less than $1,500 in campaign funds. Though Szuszkiewicz had a slight lead on election night, Frontus ended up winning by 838 votes after absentee ballots were counted.

Szuszkiewicz told Brooklyn Paper that he was not a QAnon supporter and that he only posted QAnon content to attract attention to his page. But he also said ““There’s a lot of false information being put out there” about the theory, which claims former President Donald Trump is attempting to take down a Democrat-run global child sex trafficking ring.

Alec Brook-Krasny, Steven Patzer, Ari Kagan, and Joe Packer are competing for the Democratic nomination for the seat in June. Szuszkiewicz is the first Republican to enter the race.

Kenneth Lee drops out of crowded race for Flatbush Council Seat

21-year-old Medgar Evers College student Kenneth Lee dropped out of the crowded field looking to replace term-limited Council Member Mathieu in District 40, which includes Flatbush, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and portions of East Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington.

“While it is a difficult decision for me, it was a decision I made for my family, education, and mental and physical health,” Lee said in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday.Lee had not filed financial disclosure statements with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, but he faced stiff competition from several high-profile candidates who have raised over $50,000 in private donations.

The remaining competitors for the seat include NYPD whistleblower Edwin Raymond; Kenya Handy Hilliard, a former staffer for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; District Leader Josue Pierre; educators Rita Joseph and Cecilia Cortez; attorney Blake Morris; church administrator Harriet Hines; and minister John Williams.