BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s that time of the biennial election cycle when many California cities hold their local elections for city councils, school boards, and college boards. Among these are Burbank, Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Glendale—in election date order. All four have Armenian populations of sufficient size to have a significant impact on election outcomes, so they are worthy of special attention, since so many Armenians, and by extension, broader Armenian political interests, will be impacted. In this respect, participation, that is voting, is the key to success and progress.
In Burbank, Armenian participation played a determining role in the outcome of the 2013 election. This year, with two Armenian candidates running for school board and a strong field of city council candidates, hopes are running high for good turnout from our community. The most important aspect of this, and the other cities’, elections is participation. For the specifics, see Burbank ANCA’s endorsements. Leading up to the February 24 election date, a lively campaign of calling, door-knocking, and election-sign posting has been under way, with no significant foul play from the field of candidates. Four or five days after you read this, the results will be in. There may be candidates who get elected, but most likely, the office holders will be determined by the general election scheduled for April 14.
A week after Burbank, Los Angeles holds its elections on March 3. In this case, the LA Unified School Board (LAUSD) and Community College Board elections are consolidated with the LA’s. As a result, many smaller cities included in those districts also hold their elections. In fact, Burbank voters have to cast ballots in two elections on two Tuesdays, back to back, because Burbank is part of this college district. Once again, see the ANCA endorsements. But the race for the 5th district deserves mention. Bennet Kayser is running for reelection and facing serious challengers. He has been very helpful in restraining the Gulen movement’s surrogates in their efforts to expand their Turkish-themed charter school programs in LAUSD. If you live in his 5th district, please vote for him.
Some city council races with significant Armenian populations are also exciting, and others have obvious choices, see the ANCA endorsements. In the 2nd Council district, Paul Krekorian is the obvious choice, but there’s a long-shot opportunity to have another Armenian elected to council as well, and that’s in the 4th district where a field of 14 candidates is likely to scatter the vote so much, especially among a handful of top tier candidates, that Rostom Sarkissian, one of the candidates (and, for full disclosure, my campaign consultant in 2009 when I ran for Burbank City Council) might be able to make it into the general election. The 6th district features a rematch between Cinday Montanez and Nury Martinez and the 14th some very strong challengers to the incumbent—I mention these two districts because pockets heavy Armenian population in them give our community the opportunity to play a very important, if not decisive, role in the outcome. Make sure to get out and vote, especially in these districts.
Just one more week later, on March 10, Pasadena will be holding its primary elections. In this case, the exciting news is that Pasadena ANCA has endorsed one of the mayoral candidates, Terry Tornek, in the primary, which doesn’t happen often. See the endorsements for details, but remember, especially in Pasadena, with districted (not at-large like Burbank and Glendale) elections, the opportunity to make the Armenian community’s voice heard is even more present. In district 2 of the Pasadena School Board race, an Armenian candidate endorsed by the Pasadena ANCA is running. So be sure to vote. Depending on how things turn out, Pasadena may hold a general election on April 21.
The Glendale elections are still a bit far off, April 7. Unlike the other three cities we’ve discussed, Glendale has only one round of elections, with the highest vote-getters being elected. Things started out strangely. An incumbent school board member’s signatures were submitted late because of a misunderstanding. But, a judge just ruled that person would be eligible to run for office. And, we have a candidate who’s trying to get elected to city council for the sixth time. But perhaps most interesting is the proposal before the voters of the city to hold future elections on a districted basis. I’ll get into the details a few weeks later as the election draws closer.
Just remember, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, and do it early, by mail, if at all possible. That’s how we will ongoingly increase our community’s clout and presence on the political scene and better be able to pursue our goals.