Mo’lections

By Garen Yegparian

Yeah–it’s high election season–so here’s another political junkie’s craving for ya.

The Burbank primary election has come and gone with some interesting results. Of the four candidates enjoying the community’s support–one was elected outright. The other three moved on to the general (run-off) election. There are three aspects of the results that are most interesting. An Armenian is in the Burbank city council general election for the first time. The (related) second point is–to make it into the general–that campaign had to encourage bullet voting (i.e. vote for only one candidate–the Armenian) instead of the maximum three allowed–which hurt one of the other supported candidates who was less than one percent shy of election. This is a pleasant problem to have! The winning candidate related that non-Armenia’s were impressed that in choosing whom to support–it wasn’t just Armenia’s that were selected by the Armenian National Committee of Burbank. They interpreted this as a sign of broader civic interest than just electing Armenia’s. The observation is rich with irony. The Burbank ANC has long worked on non-Armenian candidates’ campaigns–in fact almost exclusively. But–citizens’ electoral attention span tends to be very short.

On a different–yet still very interesting plane–was the candidate panel assembled by the Armenian Professional Network–an affiliate of the Echmiadzin See. All Armenian candidates for office were invited. It was a show of pride. It was a mark of the gradual electoral-political maturation of our community. Candidates from Glendale (the overwhelming majority) and Burbank and Los Angeles (one each) were on the stage. It was a great idea–but?

There were also three non-Armenia’s on display–one a long time Armenian "hars." But the other two seemed out of place. Simultaneously though–their presence is a sign of how coveted the Armenian community’s votes are. This growing power should rouse us to greater wisdom in its use.

Unfortunately–the turnout was pathetic. I counted heads–110 excluding the candidates themselves. With some people coming and going–and a few outside the hall–let’s be stupendously generous and call it 150. This is a sign of the incompleteness of our maturity. It might also be poor organizing/publicity–but somehow–this does not ring true. To boot–a significant portion of those in attendance were part of the electoral "nomenklatura"– candidates’ campaign managers–family members–media types–and assorted political junkies. This was disheartening. The positive side was the attendance of some 20 college aged compatriots–perhaps political office holders of the future seeking inspiration–information–and most importantly–mentors.

The discourse was civil and most candidates were reasonably well informed. One’s speaking ability was–oh shall we say–less than optimal. Unfortunately–some of the questions were a bit off the mark–given the context of the program. To give you a sense of this–imagine that the first question posed to Glendale City Council candidates was about a major development project. While it had some ancillary Armenian aspects–it was not an issue OF the Armenian community. It smelled like a setup for some of the candidates (especially the incumbents) who had supported the project. I was subsequently informed that despite the discussion format calling for general questions aimed at candidates of a particular OFFICE–numerous questions targeting an individual CANDIDATE had to be screened out.

It was a banner week for political junkies avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Keep up the good work.

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