What do these numbers have to do with one another? Believe it or not they’re all about an election, just when you thought that all the elections – federal, state, local – were done.
This election is different. It is an internal Democratic Party affair whereby convention delegates are elected. If this sounds familiar, don’t be surprised, because it was in the news six months ago and I had a column titled “Delegate Delight” discussing it.
These delegates attend the convention and take on other tasks, but perhaps their most important duty is voting to decide who is endorsed out of multiple Democratic candidates for the State Assembly and State Senate seats in the districts they represent. So, in years such as this one, when both the 43rd Assembly and 25th Senate district seats have term-limited incumbents and a new crop of people vying for those seats, the delegate elections take on an outsized importance. The Assembly seat includes Burbank, Glendale, Hollywood, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, parts of Los Angeles, while the Senate district adds more cities to the east and northwest.
Naturally, back in January when these delegate elections were held at their usual time, there was fierce competition. The “Democrats United” (DU) slate beat the “Progressive” (Prog) slate. Most of the Armenian community and the ANCA supported the DU slate. But then, irregular things started happening.
Because the slate he supported, Prog, lost, Assemblymember Mike Gatto took actions that many Democratic activists consider to have been an inappropriate use of his influence in the party to overturn the election results. He succeeded, mostly, since 11 of the delegate positions (out of a total 14) in the 43rd Assembly district will have to be refilled with a redo-election on July 19, this Sunday.
But this is not the first time that the Armenian community, a huge portion of the 43rd Assembly district’s population, has been effectively slapped in the face by the Democratic Party’s leadership. The history goes back at least to 1999. Along the way, you might remember the very tense 2006 primary election when an Armenian candidate was running and a hit piece effectively painted the Armenian community as terrorists. Or, perhaps you might remember the 2010 special election in which two Armenian candidates ran, one of them having no chance of getting elected, who was used to split the Armenian community’s vote so that an Armenian would not be elected.
Perhaps the most telling insult to the Armenian community is the composition of the Prog slate. In an Assembly district where at the barest minimum 25% of the population is Armenian, it included only one Armenian. The DU slate included seven Armenians. That’s quite a stark contrast and speaks of respect for our community and its concerns. Conversely, the Prog slate, with its tokenism, and by extension the sitting Assemblymember and the California Democratic Party’s, all manifest disdain towards our community.
Given that the 43rd AD is a Democratic dominated district, it is important for the Armenian community to be active in that party. Unfortunately, so far, all our efforts have been met with resistance (at best) and outright opposition and funny-business at worst.
In the January elections, Armenians turned out in unprecedented numbers to make our voice heard in the 43rd district’s Democratic delegate elections. Our preferred candidates prevailed, but the will of our voters was undone.
This Sunday, July 19, is an opportunity to demonstrate, once and for all, that this district is one in which the Armenian community must have a significant say in how things are run, who gets elected, and what policies/legislation is advocated.
This Sunday is an opportunity to assert our dignity and take what is rightfully our place in the governance and leadership of the 43rd Assembly District and the California Democratic Party.
This Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is when, if you are a registered Democratic Party voter, you should go to Glendale’s Pacific Park (501 S. Pacific Avenue, Glendale, 91204) and cast your ballot for the delegate candidates on the Democrats United slate.