BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
When you are read this, it’s likely there are ten or fewer days left the November 6th election. If you’re voting absentee (i.e. by mail) make sure you drop your ballot no later than Friday, November 2, because ballots must be RECEIVED by election day, a postmark is not good enough.
Get out and vote. It’s important to do so, even more than specifically who or what you vote for. That act of standing up and being counted is important to the Armenian community’s better integration with its surroundings.
For the final time, here are my recommendations.
The Main Event
As I’ve repeatedly written and detailed, the biggest race for the Armenian community in the U.S. is for California’s 43rd State assembly seat. Here, Glendale School Board Greg Krikorian, a long time political, community, and Armenian activist is running against a severely tainted incumbent whose actions have led to disenfranchisement of the Armenian community in his district. This community is the largest in any political jurisdiction in the country, constituting roughly 1/3 the population, and should be far more prominently featured in its Assemblymember’s offices than the current sole part-timer (that’s the latest I’m aware of).
Strangely, I’ve ended up writing more extensively than the local newspapers about why Greg should be the preferred candidate for all voters, simply by virtue of how flawed the incumbent is. Through my articles I’ve exposed how that incumbent:
1- misleads his supporters on issues of concern to them
2- takes on chairing the Assembly’s appropriations Committee mostly so he has leverage over his colleagues
3- is good at attacking his “enemies” (usually constituents) through surrogates so he remains “innocent”
4- takes credit for what he hasn’t done
5- is insensitive to the mentally retarded
6- has billed a government agency for services, under suspicion-arousing circumstances
7- is hypocritical in arguing against imaginary “attacks” on his family, while instigating real attacks on Greg’s family
8- targets Armenian activists
9- avoids meeting with organizations representing the largest swath of the Armenian community
10- sows discord and division within the Armenian community, part of a “divide and conquer” strategy
11- has a potential conflict of interest regarding his former employer (to whom he would, unsurprisingly, be likely to return after his time in the legislature), a law firm representing the anti-Armenian side in the legal battle over California’s Genocide-era insurance claims legislation.
But this incumbent, Mike Gatto, is good in one respect. He never ceases to provide examples of his duplicity. At the one and only, League of Women Voters organized, October 25 debate between Greg and Mike, the latter claimed “I’m the only legislator out of all the 120 who has never taken a sponsored piece of legislation.” Sponsored legislation is a bill that is initiated by a legislator upon the request of some organization, often referred to as a “special interest.” Yet, even though he said this in the context of arguing that he wasn’t beholden to special interests, we have an easy example of a bill, AB1875, which was clearly “sponsored” and carried by Gatto! In my universe, that’s called “lying.” This would almost be funny, except that it’s the people, his constituents, whom Gatto is playing with.
And, this deceit follows on the heels of the deceit from last week where the Gatto campaign misappropriated the name of Southern California Armenian Democrats (SCAD) on a mailer to Armenian voters. The mailer leads the reader to believe SCAD had endorsed Gatto, which is not the case! SCAD issued a statement about this and wrote a letter to Gatto. In response, the campaign, with an unsigned letter, refused to take corrective action. Do you see the shamelessness?
Make sure you vote for Greg and urge all your friends and neighbors to do the same.
The Armenian Angle
The next biggest race of interest to the Armenian community is Danny Tarkanian’s run for Congress from Nevada. It’s a challenging race but he’s well positioned to win.
Other races are of obvious interest because the candidates are Armenian. Many are less intense than those above. Others I simply do not know enough about, but list simply because it’s important to be aware.
California – House of Representatives— Ana Eshoo (incumbent)
California – House of Representatives— Jackie Speier (incumbent)
California – State Assembly— Khacho Achadjian (incumbent)
California – State Assembly— Adrin Nazarian
California – Santa Cruz City Council — Richelle Noroian.
Massachusetts – State House of Representatives — James Miceli
Massachusetts – State House of Representatives — John Fresolo
Massachusetts – State Senate — Stephen Simonian
Massachusetts – Middlesex County Sheriff — Peter Koutoujian
New Hampshire – State House of Representatives — Mary Beth Ayvazian
New Hampshire – State House of Representatives — Gary Azarian
New Hampshire – State House of Representatives — Charlene Takesian
New Hampshire – State House of Representatives — Kelly Upham-Torosian
Rhode Island – State House of Representatives — Jared Nunes
Rhode Island – State House of Representatives — Katherine Kazarian
Rhode Island – State Senate — Aram Garabedian
Rhode Island – Mayor of Warwick — Scott Avedissian
Oregon – State Labor Commissioner — Brad Avakian
Idaho – State Senate — Al Shoustarian
Arizona – Pima County School Superintendent— Linda Arzoumanian
Michigan – U.S. House of Representatives — Greg Dirdilian
Iowa State – Senate — Tim Kapucian
Kentucky – lower house state legislature — Mary Lou Marzian (incumbent)
Minnesota – lower house state legislature — King Banaian (incumbent)
New York – lower house state legislature — Paul Saryian
Virginia – City Council — Charles Diradour
Unavoidably, I must address the presidential elections. This is the worst pair of (major party) choices in a long time. Romney is incompetent for the job, Obama is spineless, and both are bad on things Armenian. The solution to this is voting for minor party candidates. So, if you are a left-winger, vote for the Green or Peace and Freedom Party candidate. If you are a right-winger, vote for the Libertarian or American Independent Party candidate. The rationale for doing this is to create an uptick in the vote tallies of the minor party candidates in areas with heavily Armenian populations. This would sense a very clear message of dissatisfaction to the Democratic and Republican parties.
Harut Sassounian has eloquently explained why neither Obama nor Romney deserves support from our community. Read his article and see the ANCA’s statement on this matter.
California Ballot Measures
We’ll keep this one simple. Here’s a table with my recommendations. Explanations for these can be found in a series of three articles from previous weeks titled “California Ballot Measures – The No-brainers,” “California Ballot Measures- The Tax Props,” and “California Ballot Measures- The Tough Props”).
Proposition 30- YES
Proposition 31- NO
Proposition 32- NO
Proposition 33- NO
Proposition 34- YES
Proposition 35- YES
Proposition 36- YES
Proposition 37- YES
Proposition 38- YES
Proposition 39- YES
Proposition 40- YES
This is a vicious race between to Democratic Congressmen, one of the most expensive and closely watched in the country! You might remember that I had recommended voting for Howard Berman over brad Sherman during the Primary election. Both campaigns have contacted me and provided me with information. It does seem that Sherman has been slightly better on Armenian issues than Berman. However, the difference is not significant to me, especially after hearing both in the ANCA-organized debate between the two of them. Couple that with Sherman’s reprehensible behavior (the video is all over the internet) when he just about attacks Berman at another debate (a security person is seen prompting Sherman to step away), Berman’s greater effectiveness in Congress, and Sherman’s mentorship and ongoing support of Mike Gatto, and I am compelled to recommend, once again, with some caution, voting for Howard Berman in California’s 30th Congressional District.
The Odds & Ends
There are a few ballot measures confronting voters in Los Angeles County. Prop A is advisory, asking if you’d like to have the County Assessor’s position go from elected to appointed. I recommend a “NO” vote on this. Measure B is one regulating the porn film industry. I recommend a “YES” vote on it. Measure J simply extends the life of a 0.25% public-transportation-funding-sales-tax so more projects can be done sooner. I recommend an emphatic “YES” vote for it! You might also have either measure HH or MM on your ballot if you live in the Santa Monica Mountains. If passed, these measures would place a $24 or $19 parcel tax for ten years on each property in the area covered. The money would be spent exclusively for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority doings in the same areas. It’s a bargain! Vote yes on HH and MM.
The LA County District Attorney race is one on which I haven’t been able to develop a position. So I’m glad the ANCA has done the research and has endorsed Alan Jackson.
From the “What were they thinking?” file
This is where some election related criticism gets dished out to some of our community’s organizations, primarily NORA and ACA, for some of their endorsements.
The National Organization of Republican Armenians has one transgression, endorsing Mitt Romney. How could they? After the disdain with which he’s treated Armenian voters throughout the country, a respectable silence by NORA would have been the best course of action.
The Armenian Council of America— PAC (the Hnchags’ electoral affiliate) is triply guilty. They endorsed Barack Obama. Again, a respectable silence on this front would have been optimal. But ACA-PAC did not stop there. This outfit also endorsed, Mike Gatto, the guy who has been a net loss for our community. Finally, ACA-PAC endorsed Brad Sherman. I suspect the only reason this happened is because of the intimacy that has been manifest between Gatto and the Hnchags, with Gatto prevailing upon the Hnchags to support his mentor. Most respectable organizations, such as the Sierra Club and ANCA, whose issues are fairly equally well represented by both Howard Berman and Sherman, have simply refrained from endorsing. It’s really starting to look to me like the Hnchags are pandering to certain elements within the Democratic Party to create an external (to our community) base of support and legitimacy to counter their relatively miniscule following within the Armenian community. This is reminiscent of the Levon Ter-Petrossian approach to leadership.
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!