Enough!

Garen Yegparian

As a parent to a misbehaving child, employer of a wayward employee, or friend of a substance abuser… how many times would you give her or him the benefit of the doubt, how many chances to correct her/him-self?

Would it be two? Three? Six?

At first, you might doubt yourself. Maybe you didn’t spend enough time with the child, or give clear instructions to the employee, or misjudged the addict’s behavior.

What if you try all kinds of approaches— reproachful, back-door/indirect, even cooperative?

What if the harm the person is doing is not just to her/himself, but the family, business or community, and even people totally unrelated to the person in question?

What if you start perceiving that the harm being inflicted might be intentional and all your well-intended efforts are being wasted, or that you’re being played?

When do you say “enough!”?

When do you start working on preventing future harm to more people in more serious settings with more grievous potential harm?

We have just this situation afflicting our communities in Glendale and its surrounding areas. It is in the electoral arena.

We have a community member who, for the past ten years has repeatedly run for office… seven different times, getting closest to succeeding on the one occasion when instead of fighting against the bulk of our community, there was cooperation.

Along the way, two other more viable Armenian candidates have lost, unquestionably because this person split the Armenian vote in two separate elections.

There are also two other occasions on which a total of three candidates in all likelihood got knocked out because of this person. And on the first go around, two others, along with the person in question didn’t make it in to office, though this case could fairly, though arguably, be described as a sub-optimal first attempt.

Table 1

By now, you probably already know I’m referring to Chahe Keuoghelian. In the June third special election, he caused Vartan Gharpetian to lose. See the accompanying Table 1 (the numbers are not final, reflecting what the LA County Registrar’s office had posted as of June 4 at 3:06). He did the same thing in the April 13, 2010 Special Primary Election by persisting in running for the State Assembly when a more viable candidate from our community, Nayiri Nahabedian, was running for the position (see accompanying Table 2).

What’s important to recognize about these two elections is that they are absolute. A voter could choose ONLY ONE candidate. They were not at-large, multi-seat, elections the way Glendale and many other cities usually constitute their city councils. You will notice that in both cases, Chahe got fewer votes than the other Armenian candidate, and that the combined vote (Chahe + the other Armenian) would have put a candidate in the winning position.

Table 2

You might argue that Chahe should be the one who gets our support. Unfortunately, let’s also acknowledge and stipulate that for a variety of reasons, Chahe is unlikely to get more than a token number of non-Armenian votes, whereas other Armenian candidates do appeal to everyone. Therefore, if he became “the” Armenian candidate, he’d probably still lose because by not getting non-Armenians’ support, the “winning Armenian” vote tally would decrease.

Take a look at Table 3. You will notice that Chahe did best the one time he cooperated with the rest of the community in 2013. He came in third when two people were going to be elected, and missed getting elected by just 356 votes out of 57,251, only 0.62%! In all his other efforts, he was twice removed from being elected, or worse. In other words, when two people were getting elected, he came in fourth (or fifth), when 3 were getting elected, sixth, etc.

Table 3

All this time, Chahe has advocated “bullet voting” for him, i.e. even if a voter can choose up to three people, s/he would vote only for one. This is a technique which allows a given candidate to advance without other candidates also benefiting. This is not uncommon. But, Chahe’s version of bullet voting, at least as understood by his strongest supporters, is that NO other votes are cast, even for other offices. This means that while Chahe is running for city council, he’s (at least implicitly) advocating that his supporters not vote for school board, city clerk, treasurer, etc. This harms other candidates needlessly.

Another damaging practice Chahe has engaged in is bad-mouthing other Armenian individuals and organizations, rather than promoting himself as a candidate. What this does is create disgust in our community, leading some people to just not bother voting. The harm done to Armenian political credibility from this comes when our voter turnout rates end up being lower. Consequently, when issues of concern to the Armenian community arise, elected officials pay less attention.

It’s time to say “Enough, Chahe!”, because seven unsuccessful attempts at election should make it clear he is unelectable. It’s other people’s turn to try without getting harmed by a split vote in our community. Any further candidacies will only confirm what many people already believe—that Chahe is somehow being “paid off” to divide our community.

It’s time for Chahe’s closest friends and supporters to say, “Enough, Chahe. Even though we love you, the community’s interests and needs trump any one person’s aspirations.”

It’s time for people that Chahe meets on streets and in stores to say “Enough, Chahe.”

Enough Chahe!

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5 Comments

  1. Shawnt Karakozian said:

    Mr. Yegparian, I commend you on having the intestinal fortitude to shed light on this issue, one that I understand can be a slippery slope to navigate with the Armenian community.

    Pity that this article was published after the fact. Now it is likely come next election, when Chahe is at it with his antics yet again, the Armenian community will forget your message.

    What this article lacks is a strong indictment against Chahe the individual and Chahe the Armenian. Not once do you question his lack of political knowledge and experience, nor do you question his intentions behind running for a plethora of different offices.

    But that perhaps is the least troubling aspect of this article. What trumps all is the fact that the leaders of the Armenian American community such as yourself love to criticize when all is said done, but fail to deliver when the heat is on. Perhaps our time can be better spent with actions that propel our fellow aspiring Armenians forward, before we engage in an ideological analysis of why they failed.

    Because in a world where we are constantly outnumbered, where our backs are constantly against the wall, we can ill afford to speak loudly, and carry a soft stick.

  2. Victor said:

    Although I am quite certain that my response will be denied the right to appear in response to Garen’s commentary, however, the mere fact that at least the Editor will be enlightened is quite a progress…

    Once again, Garen has chosen to present whatever defends his accusations. It is easy to blame others for our failures. However, when an organization claiming it represents the interests of all Armenians fails in getting its endorsed-candidate(s) to win seat(s), it may be time for its leaders to look inwards, reassess that claim, and/or work towards REAL representation of the ENTIRE community.

    Had Garen been unbiased and analyzed/presented ALL the facts, he would have realized (probably still without admitting to) that Chahe’s and Vartan’s constituents have two very distinct demographics, different needs and different stances. Any thought that Keuroghelian’s supporters would vote for Gharpetian does not make sense unless voting for an “ian” or “yan” is the only thing (“winning Armenian”) that matters to the Armenian citizens; but that type of approach to voting pattern assumes that the Armenian voters don’t think. That mindset demeans the Armenian voters’ ability to mentally process and choose the candidate who best represents their interests.

    Let us remember that from the beginning of this campaign, Vartan and ANC-Glendale representatives declared that he has secured the support and endorsements of not only representatives of Armenian organizations, but also the Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Latino communities, in addition to a few elected Anglo officials. If that was the case, then why did the ANC-endorsed candidate have to depend on Armenian-only votes?

    Let us also remember that there have been other Armenian candidates who have NOT “appeal(ed) to everyone” and lost their bids for office. Examples? Anahid Oshagan (2005); Rafi Manoukian and Greg Krikorian (2007); Bob Yousefian and Vartan Gharpetian (2009); Rafi Manoukian THE ONLY ARMENIAN CANDIDATE FOR TREASURER (2009); Vartan Gharpetian for GCC Board (2011); Greg Krikorian THE ONLY ARMENIAN CANDIDATE FOR STATE ASSEMBLY (2012)…Who are we going to blame for their losses?

    Garen claims he is a staunch believer in democratic principles and values, but conveniently disregards the fact that in democracy, it is every individual’s absolute right to run in any election s/he chooses and as many times as s/he wants.

    And finally, Garen’s accusation that “Chahe is somehow being “paid off” to divide our community”, is nothing other than a defense mechanism for denying the existence of such a trait within the self. Psychologists have proven time and again that humans have a broad tendency to believe that others are similar to themselves, and due to that belief they task their personal character onto others…

  3. Armenian said:

    He’s in it for the money, and nothing more. He’s probably figured that he can’t win so he’s making the most out of constantly running over and over again. I am certain he’s getting paid to run because nobody can be that delusional to think that getting elected is possible with his record, and his childish attitude. I have no idea how an individual of that age can go on live television, and play his private voicemails on the air, and sling mud left and right. He doesn’t appeal to everyone — including most Armenians, as even within the Armenian community, he only appeals to a very, very small and particular group of people.

    Nonetheless, I am certain he will be running again and in every other position in which he can take a significant amount of the Armenian vote away from the most viable candidate. The people who don’t want to see Armenians take public office in this city (and believe me, there are a lot of them), have found their marionette in Chahe and are most likely paying him to keep Armenians out of office.

  4. Hratch said:

    Why do you presume that all Armenian voters are shallow enough to simply transfer their votes to the next Armenian candidate. How do you know that all 2,074 Chahe votes were cast exclusively by Armenians?

    This is perhaps the reason why this city’s politics is non-partisan. Preventing individuals to run so another candidate could win is a form of party corruption. Why don’t you believe that the best man will win if they have the qualifications and appeal. If both candidates lost this time, it probably means that they were not qualified enough to win the broader vote.

    If Chahe’s support base is so narrow, then how is it possible that he can derail the ANC’s endorsed candidate? Perhaps a closer examination of the supposed influence and power of the ANC must be made. Blaming an insignificant candidate for the repeated defeat of their candidate does not bode well for an organization claiming great influence on the community. And the old and tired conspiracy theories of paid-off spoiler candidates is just silly and childish. This kind of talk simply discredits every other argument.

    It is sad that others reading this article will get the impression that Armenians in general are only interested in candidates because of their ethnic background. This type of publicity will turn off any candidate wanting to court the Armenian vote.

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