New York, NY—Council member Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) wants to be the 110th Mayor of New York City. If elected, he would center his mayoral priorities around the needs of the community, a position that put him at odds with private developers recently because he voted no on the Industry City rezoning plan for the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn.
Industry City is currently home to a number of different businesses in light manufacturing and retail. Its CEO and an investment and management company that owns the 16-building complex wanted to expand the retail space and build two hotels.
Menchaca told the Westside Democrats during a virtual mayoral forum that he learned a lot from that experience. Although Mayor Bill de Blasio did not take a position on the Industry City rezoning, Menchaca and the Mayor have perviously been at odds over development along the waterfront in his district.
“What I want to bring is a whole different way of thinking about government that starts with community. I’ve been a council member representing Sunset Park and Red Hook and so much of what I have learned about what a mayor can and can’t do has been in fights with this administration,” said Menchaca.
“His [Bill de Blasio] entire time has been really removing power from communities to make decisions that are best for them and in coalition with other neighborhoods, so what I want to do is really change that opportunity and give people the power.”
Menchaca was one of eight candidates that had an opportunity to speak about their platforms and answer questions from the online audience on a range of issues such as climate change, public safety and policing, and housing and homelessness, an issue of particular concern to West Siders in light of the debate surrounding the use of the Lucerne Hotel as a temporary homeless shelter.
To help reduce homelessness, he'd like to implement a universal basic income measure.
“I want to create pilot programs so that we can actually experiment with people who might need a little more to be able to pay for rent, this is something that can really change how people access not just housing but all the things that they need,” Menchaca said.
He cited recent examples of affordable housing in his district that would also help reduce homelessness.
“So much of what I’ve learned about housing and homelessness I’ve learned through what we are doing in Sunset Park. Right now, we have approved two 100 percent affordable housing projects that are going to be incredibly affordable,” began Menchaca.
“Those are the kinds of things I want to do as Mayor—to really think about how we bring the resources of the capital budget so that we can bring true affordability to our communities.”
Menchaca’s decision to vote no on the Industry City rezoning plan, while welcomed by community activists, angered city and Brooklyn economic civic leaders.
He was asked how he would work with other city and state elected officials in order to govern effectively.
“What I did was spend seven years talking to a lot of people, briefing a lot of people, including all the elected officials by keeping them abreast of all the things that were happening in this rezoning that I knew was going to be contentious,” noted Menchaca.
“At the end you saw an incredible alignment that I don’t think we’ve seen before in saying no to a massive development; the New York Post and New York Daily News were saying that it was an important thing to pass because of all the jobs, but we did our homework and I shared that homework with transparency—that’s how I’m going to run this mayor’s office.”