Road to the 43rd Assembly District Seat

A special election has been scheduled for April 13, 2010 to fill the 43rd State Assembly seat formerly held by Paul Krekorian, who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council this past December.  More than 20 percent of the district’s residents are of Armenian descent. The District spans the cities of Glendale and Burbank as well as portions of Los Angeles, including the neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Laurel Grove, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Toluca Woods, Toluca Terrace, Valley Glen and Van Nuys.

The Armenian National Committee-Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC) recently sent a questionnaire to four individuals who have declared their intention to be elected as candidacy for the 43rd Assembly representing the 43rd District.  In an effort to educate the voters and better acquaint them with the candidates and their records/positions on issues, ANC-PAC decided to present the public with their responses.  The responses received from the candidates are presented below to help registered voters become better acquainted with the candidates planning to compete for their votes. 

The ANC-PAC will announce its endorsement after the closing of the official filing period next week. The endorsement decision will be based on the candidate’s position as well as record on issues affecting the 43rd Assembly District in general and the Armenian-American community specifically.

The ANC-PAC will also consider the candidate’s chance of winning the election by analyzing the campaign team, the financial resources, and endorsements along with several other indicators normally used by Political Action Committee to make endorsement decisions.

The responses received from Glendale Unified School District Board Member Nayiri Nahabedian, Michael Gatto, and Sunder Ramani are presented below. Chahe Keuroghelian did not respond to the questionnaire.

Nayiri Nahabedian

1. Why do you want to be elected to the State Assembly?
I’m willing to serve in the Assembly because we need a representative who knows how Sacramento’s decisions affect us right here at home.  As an educator at California State University, Los Angeles and a Board Member for the Glendale Unified School District, I know firsthand how the dysfunction of Sacramento impacts our schools and our local governments. 

2. What are your qualifications to represent the residents of the 43rd AD?

I am the only candidate who holds elected office and has a proven track record of fighting for our community. As a Board Member of the Glendale Unified School District, I have balanced budgets without teacher layoffs while raising academic test scores.  I have worked to provide strong constituent services by holding community hours and being responsive to constituent issues.

3. List up to 25 endorsements you have received in this race, that indicate support for you in the 43rd AD.

Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Council
Senator Carol Liu, CA-21
Senator Alex Padilla, CA-20
Congressman Howard Berman, CA-28
Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield – CA-40 
Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes – CA-39 
Assemblymember Anthony Portantino – CA-44
Dr. Armine Hacopian – GCC, Board of Trustees
Vahe Peroomian – GCC, Board of Trustees
Alex Rooker – First Vice-Chair, CA State Democratic Party
Christine Walters – Glendale Unified School District, Board Member
Rafi Manoukian – Former Mayor of Glendale
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (COPE)
California NOW
National Women’s Political Caucus
California Association of Professional Employees
Unite HERE Local 11

4. As another indication of support, how much money have you raised for this race and how much do you expect to raise by April 13, 2010?

Our campaign finances are strong. Our budget is $300,000.00.  In just a few weeks we have raised over $100,000.00. Through grass-roots efforts and organizing, we are reaching our internal campaign goals and will have a successful campaign.  

5. What kind of experience does your campaign team have in running campaigns in the 43rd AD? (50 words or less)

My campaign team is very experienced in the 43rd Assembly District. It is the same team which helped elect Paul Krekorian to this very seat in 2006 and 2008. It is also the same team which recently helped elect Paul Krekorian to the Los Angeles City Council where he was outspent 3-to-1.

6. What kind of relationship have you had with the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD? What have you done for them and/or along-side them?

I have consistently been an advocate for the many families and communities in our area — including Armenian-Americans. I have served on the Burbank ANC Board, chaired the Education Committee of Burbank ANC and worked collaboratively with the Glendale ANC.  I co-founded AGBU’s Young Professional and the GenNext mentorship program for Glendale students.

7. What three issues do you think are important to the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD and how will you successfully address these issues?

I find that most families and communities of every background, including Armenian-Americans want a good education for their children, a healthy economy where businesses thrive and good jobs. Lastly, the Armenian American community values knowledge of history of all people and continues to stress the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Mike Gatto

1. Why do you want to be elected to the State Assembly?
No response

2. What are your qualifications to represent the residents of the 43rd AD?

I was born and raised in the 43rd district, its where I live and where I’m raising my family.  I have deep involvement in the community, broad support among community leaders and a far deeper record of community service than any of my opponents.

3. List up to 25 endorsements you have received in this race, that indicate support for you in the 43rd AD.

Congressman Brad Sherman, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Sheriff Lee Baca, City Councilman Tom LeBonge, former Burbank Mayors Mary Lou Howard and Jeff Vander Borght, former Glendale School Board member Chuck Sambar, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg and dozens of local community leaders.

4. As another indication of support, how much money have you raised for this race and how much do you expect to raise by April 13, 2010?

I’ve raised nearly $300,000 and will raise $500,000.

5. What kind of experience does your campaign team have in running campaigns in the 43rd AD?

My team includes SG&A Campaigns, Groundworks Campaigns (field).  Both have extensive experience in the district going all the way back to Adam Schiff’s first Senate victory.

6. What kind of relationship have you had with the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD? What have you done for them and/or along-side them?

While working with Congressman Brad Sherman, I helped him defend Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which once prohibited direct U.S. Government aid to Azerbaijan. I also worked directly on his successful efforts to begin direct U.S. aid to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, drive recognition by the U.S. government of the Armenian Genocide.

7. What three issues do you think are important to the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD and how will you successfully address these issues?

a. Guaranteeing respect and equal treatment by cites and local communities.
Some local communities fail to respect the needs and traditions of their Armenian-American residents and community.  Conflicts over lowering a flag on Armenian Genocide recognition day, passing legislation that disrespects Armenian-American cultural traditions or businesses, all of these are problems.   I will be an advocate for the Armenian-American community, much as my mentor Congressman Brad Sherman, and work to reconcile the needs of the Armenian-American community and the communities in which they are making their home.

b. Small business development

Like everyone else, Armenian-Americans are struggling with the economic crisis.   And small businesses, which are the primary job creator, are suffering.  I intend to reform California’s tax code to lighten the load on small business and encourage new businesses to open and existing businesses to flourish.

c. Recognition of Armenian contributions and history

It is outrageous that we are even having a debate about whether Turkey committed genocide.   I will fight to guarantee recognition of the Armenian Genocide and push our government to acknowledge it as well.

Sunder Ramani

1. Why do you want to be elected to the State Assembly?
California is in a mess. Businesses are hurting. My business is hurting. The past practices have not been working. Real business experience is lacking in Sacramento and my election to the Assembly will be the change we need.

2. What are your qualifications to represent the residents of the 43rd AD?

I am not a career politician. I am a father, a concerned citizen, and a small business owner. I have lived here most my life. All I know is what I see, hear, and experience here. My sincere concern in the direction of this State has spurred my interest and involvement in politics. I did not choose politics, it chose me!

3. List up to 25 endorsements you have received in this race, that indicate support for you in the 43rd AD.

Kira Ramani (Daughter), Collin Ramani (Son), Mandy Ramani (Wife), Chamber people, independent business people, mayor, council members, people who have known and worked with me over the years.

4. As another indication of support, how much money have you raised for this race and how much do you expect to raise by April 13, 2010?

Having just started fundraising, we are pleased to report that we are doing very well and are exceeding all of our projections. We will raise and spend whatever is needed or necessary to run a successful campaign 

5. What kind of experience does your campaign team have in running campaigns in the 43rd AD?

They are all people who I have known for quite a while, whom I trust, respect, admire and adore. Each has worked and lived here and are highly knowledgeable about the 43rd AD. Each is showcased on my website. 

6. What kind of relationship have you had with the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD? What have you done for them and/or along side them?

As an immigrant myself, I know the challenges all immigrant cultures face. I have always been supportive to all cultures; and, living in this area, my involvement with the Armenian-American community continues to be strong.

7. What three issues do you think are important to the Armenian-American Community in the 43rd AD and how will you successfully address these issues?

I know the importance of the proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide to the Armenian-American community. I will continue to support this just as the other Governors and Legislators have before me.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of this community. The Armenian-American business owners face the same challenges of regulations and excessive taxes as all business owners. With approximately 60 to 70 percent of the businesses in the City of Glendale being owned by Armenian-Americans, it is critical that we support, protect, and encourage this business community.
Our children need jobs. The future we leave them does not look promising unless we take action now! This is not the life we promised them – and I intend to be the difference in their lives.
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