Those of us living in California will have the “blessing” of going to the polling booth an extra time this year, on June 3. This is happening because legislators, rightly, wanted to have the biggest (population) state in the union to have a meaningful say in the partisan elections for presidential candidates known euphemistically as primaries. Now, those of the 36.5 million people in the state who bother to vote will do so for ballot measures, state legislative offices, and local non-partisan races.
Let’s follow the order of appearance on the ballot of the races and issues discussed.
There are very few contested races for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and Assembly, at least in areas with significant Armenian populations. In the heart of the greater Glendale ghetto, all these races feature candidates running unopposed in their party’s primary. All are strong supporters of Armenian issues, at least on the Democratic side– Adam Schiff, Carol Liu, and Paul Krekorian– and even the others probably are too. How could they possibly expect to get elected in these districts otherwise. No-brainers all are these. Just vote for your party’s candidates. The “real” races, though not necessarily competitive, will come in November.
There is one race, for Democratic Party Central Committee, which is competitive and relevant to Armenia’s. This involves the 43rd Assembly District. You can vote for up to seven candidates, as that is the number of seats available. If you are a registered Democrat, please vote for at least the first three of the five names I list, and possibly all of them. There are others on the list who might seem appealing, but some have taken anti Armenian positions on local issues and others are unknown quantities to me. Stick to these three/five, listed in the order they appear on your ballot: the first-choice-triplet are Adrin Nazarian, Robert B. Silver, Karapet Karo Torossian, and the additional pair are Paul Mitchell and Heather Marie Repenning.
Oddly enough, the County level races feature intensity and relevance. Believe it or not, the race for one of the judgeships, Office N. 125, is very interesting. Vote for James N. Bianco. Why, his opponent, Bill Johnson, is a closet racist. Even the LA Times has run a strong editorial against this man who, under a different name, has written a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment and a book supporting it that would restrict U.S. citizenship to those “of the European race”. Kiss your U.S. citizenship goodbye if this candidate with Ku Klax Klan ties and two failed attempts at Congress in two different states has his way. More importantly, imagine appearing in his court with a dark complexion! If you vote for no other judges because of an understandable lack of information, vote for Bianco in this race!
Continuing with the County, in the non-partisan for District Attorney, Steve Cooley is up for re-election. This is the guy who we supported eight years ago in the hopes that he’d have a more balanced approach to Hampig Sassounian’s case. Simply, he screwed Hampig over when the latter came up for parole. It is essential we all vote AGAINST this guy. Unfortunately, his opposition is lackluster, and he’ll probably win. But, let the propostions of his victory be lower in the area with high Armenian populations, to send a message. he has two opponents, I’ve decided to vote for Albert Robles. You can vote for the other guy, just as long as you do vote to oust Cooley.
Three County Supervisor seats are up. The incumbents in two of them are running, and will get elected overwhelmingly. They are non issues. However, term limits will start barring the current incumbents from running again in a few years, that’s when these races will get exciting. Huge numbers of Armenia’s live in the 5th Los Angeles Supervisorial District. Here, Mike Antonovich has been generally supportive, so, vote for him, it’s his last term. But, in the 2nd district, Mark Ridley Thomas and Bernard Parks, the leading two candidates, both Democrats in a non-partisan race, are in intense competition. They’ve been supportive of Armenia’s as members of LA’s City Council, and Ridley-Thomas a little more because of his tenure in the State Assembly, their other positions are different enough that the county’s direction, for close to the next decade, will be impacted by who wins. I recommend you vote for Ridley-Thomas because his positions on economic and environmental issues are wiser and more people friendly. Given how tight this race is, even the relatively few Armenia’s living in this district can make a big difference.
The 800 pound gorilla in this California Primary election, that many will bypass voting in, is the pair of propositions, 98 and 99. The issue both seek to address is the taking by government of private homes for the purpose of private develop– think malls and such. This all started a very few years ago when the U.S. court ruled governmen’s COULD do just that. The case came from Connecticut and involved a woman’s home. Who could disagree with stopping such abuse? Both 98 and 99 do this. But, as is often the case with these ballot measures, various special interests have loaded 98 with hidden items that would cause harm to an overwhelming portion of the population. You’ve probably heard that the massive water supply projects that supply the arid southern part of the state with water from the wet north are in need of updating. The risk is a New Orleans-type disaster if these upgrades aren’t made. 98 would impact the state government’s ability to make these upgrades. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken against 98, and he’s not someone who’s known for favoring expanded government powers. 98 also bans rent control throughout the state. Regardless of what you think of rent control, handing a bunch of greedy land-(slum?)-lords a windfall that would embarrass even Exxon isn’t good public policy and would hurts tens of thousands of people who are struggling to make ends meet. Local jurisdictions are addressing rent control based on their needs. Some are even phasing it out. If both 98 and 99 pass, the one with the more votes will become state law. Clearly, the right way to vote is a resounding NO on 98 and Yes on 99.
Now, having seen Red Dog Howls; I have to say, you’ve got to see it. Details next week.