Editorial: Vote on March 7 and Make Your Voice Heard

On Tuesday–March 7 Californians will participate in primary elections to determine candidate representing parties in races ranging from State Assembly to president. California joins more than a dozen other states in what is known as Super Tuesday–the closest event to a national primary.

California has the largest representation on Capitol Hill and–thus–it is the most important state as far as elections are concerned.

The large Armenian-American community in California–over the years–has become a strong voting community–expressing its mind at the ballot box for issues of concern to Armenia’s. While voting a personal choice and no one or entity can manipulate that constitutional right–community members are urged to cast their ballots for candidate who will best represent Armenian-American issues in their respective positions.

One of the more heated races in the state is taking place in the 43rd Assembly district where all newcomers are vying for the seat being vacated by Assemblyman and friend of the Armenian-American community Democrat Scott Wildman who is running for the 21st State Senate district. The current State Senator Adam Schiff is vacating his seat to run for Congress against Republican James Rogan.

This year–the Armenian-American community finds itself in a unique position because two qualified Armenian-Americans have decided to seek the 43rd Assembly seat. Democrat Paul Krekorian and Republican Craig Missakian have both run successful campaigns against their party opponents and are poised to lead in the race on Tuesday. Both candidate are being endorsed by the Armenian National Committee-Political Action Committee for their leadership on issues of interest to the Armenian-American community.

If both candidate win the primary–it will allow the Armenian community to make a choice in November of which Armenian would best represent the district’s population’s interests in Sacramento.

Paul Krekorian and Craig Missakian equally deserve the support and the votes from the Armenian-American electorate.

In the 21st Senate district race–the ANC-PAC has endorsed Assemblyman Scott Wildman–who for years has been an ardent supporter of Armenian issues in Sacramento. Due to his efforts–the first-ever exhibition of photographs depicting the horrors of the Genocide was staged in the State Capitol rotunda. Furthermore–Wildman’secured state funding for the reprinting of the State’s Curriculum on Human Rights and Genocide to be re-distributed in California public schools. He was also influential in guaranteeing that a question on the Armenian Genocide would be included in the exit exams administered to high school students. Wildman’s presence in the community also signals that he is a true representative of his constituency. His attendance of April 24 protest marches at the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles–as well as his support for garnering recognition for the Armenian Genocide–places him at the top of the list of friends to the community. He should be praised for his efforts and rewarded by the Armenian-American vote.

State Senator Hilda Solis–who is running for the 31st Congressional seat–is also a staunch supporter of Armenian-American concerns. Throughout the years–she has maintained a close and exemplary relation with the ANCA-WR and the ANC of San Gabriel Valley. She is running against long-time Congressman Matthew Martinez–whose support for Armenian-American issues in Congress has dwindled considerable. It is time for a new representative of the important Montebello community to go to Washington and represent the interest of her constituents. Due to these compelling reasons–the ANC-PAC endorsed Solis’ candidacy for Congress.

By now–the four leading candidates in the presidential race have articulated their views on Armenian-American concerns.

By far the most compelling support for Armenian issues–especially for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide–has been expressed by Democratic candidate Sen. Bill Bradley–who on numerous occasions has said that Turkey must recognize the Genocide and–if elected–he will work toward attaining that recognition.

On the Republican side–Texas Gov. George W. Bush has also addressed the Genocide issue by calling the events of 1915 "a genocidal campaign waged by the Ottoman Turkish government." Furthermore–like Bradley–he has pledged to continued aid to Armenia and ensure a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Their opponents–Vice-President Al Gore and Sen. John McCain–have done everything but address these issues. Gore’s insistence on maintaining the current Clinton administration position of ignoring the Genocide recognition issue–has made his other pledges to the Armenian-American electorate weak and compromising. Meanwhile–Sen. McCain’s assertions that he would not support a Genocide resolution clearly signals that this candidate is not prepared to set the historical record straight.

The Armenian-American community has an important chance to ensure that its grass-roots activism which has brought forth such measures as restriction of aid to Azerbaijan (Section 907)–increased aid to Armenia and direct aid to Karabakh–will continue and grow stronger.

The growing Armenian population in California is an important bloc in the American political system and its voice should be heard loud and clear. The message should be: individuals who do not support or advocate issues which affect Armenia’s do not deserve the Armenian vote. Furthermore–a clear message should also be sent to candidates who dance around cooperation with the community–that Armenian-Americans are part and parcel of this country’s mosaic and their voice and vote will continued to increase and become stronger.

The first election of the 21st century should be marked by increased participation of the Armenian-American electorate. Vote of March 7 and make your voice heard.

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