SACRAMENTO–Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) joined officials–delegates–and activists from across California to take part in the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento–California April 28-30.
ANCA-WR Staff Haig Hovsepian and Lerna Kayserian–along with ANCA Glendale Chapter Executive Director Alina Azizian–and Armenian Youth Federation Central Executive Member Saro Shirinian–met with numerous candidates and government officials who visited the ANCA-WR exhibitor table there.
Visitors included State Treasurer Phil Angelides and State Controller Steve Westley–who are both pursuing the Democratic Party candidacy for California Governor. Westley expressed his gratitude to the ANCA-WR for its activities and pledged his commitment to working with the Armenian American community in the future.
Treasurer Angelides–who received the 2003 ANCA-WR "California Public Official of the Year" award–has been a champion for human rights and Genocide issues for years. In 1997–he questioned the California Public Employees Retirement System about its investmen’s in the Republic of Turkey–citing the country’s gross human rights abuses and military dominance in the region. In October 2000–he wrote to President Bill Clinton imploring the president to properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
California State Senator Jackie Speier also stopped-by at the ANCA-WR table. A longtime advocate of issues important to Armenian Americans–Senator Speier recently co-authored–along with Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno)–SB1524–legislation that would grant Armenian genocide victims and their descendants access to California Courts to recover bank deposits and looted possessions from commercial entities that have wrongfully withheld them since the Genocide. The Senators had a few years back authored similar legislation that gave authority to recover Genocide era life insurance proceeds in California Courts. Another victory was the 2005 Senate bill permanently designating April 24 the "California Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide." Senator Speier is a candidate for California Lieutenant Governor–and recently served as Mistress of Ceremonies during April 24 commemorations at the Montebello Martyr’s monument.
Other officials and candidates visiting the ANCA-WR table included California Assembly candidates James Bufford–candidate for the 25th California Assembly District–Paul Lucas–candidate for the 68th Assembly District–and Roxana Folescu–candidate for the 74th Assembly District. Each received the endorsement of the convention along with Anthony Portantino–who is running for the 44th Assembly District seat–and Geraldine Guzman–candidate for the 58th Assembly District.
Portantino–a seven year city councilmember and two-time mayor of La Canada-Flintridge–has worked alongside ANCA-WR on numerous occasions and is endorsed by the ANC-Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC). Montebello City Treasurer Guzman–was honored by the ANCA San Gabriel Valley Chapter in 2004 for her public service.
While most officials briefly visited to express their support and gratitude for the ANCA–others stopped by to discuss pressing issues. Assemblymember Jerome Horton–who delivered a stirring address at this year’s commemoration at the Montebello Armenian Martyr’s Monument–spoke at length with Azizian and thanked the ANCA for its continued support. Horton is a candidate for the California State Board of Equalization. He also commended the ANCA for its tireless pursuit of justice for the Armenian genocide and efforts to confront the ongoing genocide in Darfur. These sentimen’s were echoed by Assemblymember Paul Koretz–who expressed his appreciation for ANCA community activists on this issue.
"Each year–the ANCA welcomes this opportunity to ensure our issues are appropriately included in the general conscious of the party," said Haig Hovsepian. "It was a pleasure connecting with so many Californian officials and activists–and we look to expand these relationships in the coming months."
The ANCA is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices–chapters–and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world–the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.