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.