A guide to current candidates for the 38th Council District seat in Sunset Park and Red Hook

The race for the 38 Council District seat is heating up, with several candidates for residents to choose from. Incumbent Carlos Menchaca, who defeated Sara Gonzalez, who was councilmember from 2002-2013, announced his bid for reelection back in May during a campaign launch party. Before and since then, many have joined the race, including Gonzalez.

Here’s a look at the candidates and their respective platforms.

Carlos Menchaca (D)



The incumbent cited his record on immigration and workers’ rights, building new schools, and bringing a new flavor of civic participation and igniting all residents as some of his accomplishments.

“The most proud moment for me has been the reactivation of the city focusing on our schools and our education for our kids,” he said. “The fact that we have four new schools on the way is a testament to the trust that the community has had in me to lead them to build the infrastructure our families need.”

He also mentioned the success of IDNYC. “I’m also proud of the stuff we’ve done with immigration and bringing IDNYC, identification that everyone can have,” Menchaca added.

Menchaca believes he’s the one best suited to continue the job he started. “I’m the one that has the energy to continue to fight against anyone who doesn’t put our community first,” he said. “There’s no one that has that track record but me and that’s why I’m going to continue to be the councilmember of this district.”

Chris Miao (D)


Photo courtesy of Chris Miao

One of the later entries, Chris Miao is the first Asian American running for City Council in Sunset Park.

Miao, an attorney, said his interest in politics and desire to help immigrants inspired him to jump in the race.

“In this political climate, it’s important to have someone in place who is going to protect the rights of immigrants whether it’s green card holders, temporary visa holders or undocumented immigrants,” he said. “Being an immigrant myself who later became a nationalized citizen, I do identify with the immigrant population and I think it’s important to have someone there to protect our rights and educate them in terms of what their rights are.”

He believes that not being lifetime politician separates himself from the rest. “I’m not running to make a living and that’s not what this is about,” he said. “I make a fine living as an attorney. I’m running to make a difference. I just want to be able to provide transparency in terms of the government. There’s a lot of fear and the majority of that fear is based on the unknown.”

Sara Gonzalez (D)



Having held the title of councilmember for over 10 years before being defeated by Menchaca, Gonzalez is attempting to reclaim the seat.

“For the last couple of years, residents and community leaders alike have shared with me their belief that all the progress we achieved together has been thwarted,” she said in a statement. “They’ve said ‘Let’s pick up where we left off!’ and I am ready to heed their call.”

Gonzalez stated that her long experience separates herself from the other candidates. “I am the only candidate in the race who has lived in the district their entire life,” she said. “No other candidate has anywhere near the level of accomplishment on behalf of the residents and businesses of District 38 that I do.”

Javier Nieves (D)



A former assemblymember, Javier Nieves is running because of what he believes to be a current lack of leadership.

“I think there’s something to be said for people that are vested in our community, who have a history of involvement and who really care about what goes on in our community,” he said. “I don’t think anyone out there that’s running that has the experience that I have in community organizing. I will not waver on what our community needs. I think it’s a community for all of us.”

Nieves will be focusing on jobs. “One of the comments that I hear constantly from the community is that none of the [new] jobs are coming to people in the community,” he said. “We need someone strong who gets along with the power brokers and knows how to cut deals and bring those resources to bear, and I believe I’m that person.”

Homeless issues will also be key. “We have these hotels popping up all over the places and Sunset Park has been inundated with this homeless crisis,” he said. “I have lived in Sunset for over 35 years and I have never seen this type of situation.”

Carmen V. Hulbert (Green Party)


Photo courtesy of Facebook

The only candidate of the Green Party in the race, Carmen Hulbert has been living in Red Hook for the last 28 years.

She decided to take action after witnessing injustices in the area, specifically, “The unfair practice of rezoning in our city and the lack of affordable housing in our area, particularly in Sunset Park and Red Hook, which have become an easy terrain for predatory developers,” she told this paper. “Our mayor states that Broken Windows is working and our City Council keeps saying let’s talk about it, while our kids are constantly harassed and abused.”

Hulbert’s main focuses include housing, jobs and education.

“I will be working to make housing more accessible for low-income families, improving the conditions in public housing and protecting rent-stabilized buildings,” she said. “We need to provide working parents with livable-wage strong union jobs, preferably in the renewable energy industry.”

After speaking to locals, being priced out is also a concern. “They are afraid to be priced out from their apartments due to gentrification,” she said. “Also in Red Hook public housing, the living conditions have to be improved. The mold problems have gone on for more than a decade and are only addressed in election years. People feel they are not heard.”

Delvis Valdes (D)


Photo courtesy of Delvis Valdes

An attorney and longtime Sunset resident, Valdes said he knows what residents worry about the most.

“I’ve been a staple in this neighborhood for about 30-plus years and my family has been in this neighborhood for 50-plus years,” he said. “I’ve been an attorney for over 20 years and I’m also involved in local events that go on in the neighborhood through the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue BID, which I helped create along with the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID.”

His number one priority is education. “We have overcrowding in the schools,” he said. “Kids are learning in gymnasiums and they’re teaching classes in hallways. It’s criminal. Every kid should have a seat in the classroom where they can learn.”

Jobs are also on the agenda. “I’m seeing what we could to do spruce up our Fifth Avenue corridor,” Valdes said. “We need to cut back a little bit on regulations so these mom-and-pop stores can hire people and get more employment going.”

*Felix Ortiz (rumored)



There are rumors that Oritz, the 51st A.D. representative since 1994, will throw his hat in the ring.

According to the New York Campaign Finance Board, as of June 20, Ortiz was not on the list to join the Campaign Finance Program for the 2017 election cycle.

Ortiz hasn’t officially made any announcement and did not respond to a request for comment.


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