BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
On Sunday, January 11, a significant victory was achieved by the Armenian community living in California’s 43rd State Assembly District (AD), led by the efforts of the ANCA.
“What could be so significant on such a small scale?” you’re probably wondering.
In January of every odd-numbered year, the Democratic Party of California holds elections for 14 “delegates”, seven men and seven women, in each of the state’s 80 State Assembly districts. These delegates represent their district for two years as members of the Democratic State Central Committee, attend the party’s annual conventions, and vote on who the party will endorse in primary elections. Simultaneously, one of those fourteen is also elected as a member of the executive board, which handles more of the ongoing business of the party.
For at least the past decade in the 43rd AD, the ANCA has mobilized Armenians who are registered as Democrats to participate in these elections. Some years have seen success, other years have been mixed or horrible.
But as time went on, ANCA members and the community at large learned to participate in this process. I, too, participated this and previous years, calling many of the same people to remind them to attend this election. Many replied “oh yeah, the one at the corner of Olive and Buena Vista.” Though the location had changed to Glendale Community College this year, they still came.
But they were not alone. Armenian Democrats were building coalitions, primarily with “Democrats United for Progress and Victory,” to secure victory. Even the SEIU had endorsed one of the people who was on the Democrats United slate.
Everyone pitched in. Some people turned out 10 voters, others many dozens. What made it exciting was that there was an opposing camp, working under the name “Progressive Slate.”
Because of the efforts of both factions, 749 people voted. This was the second highest turnout in the entire state! The two sides in this battle have been clashing in these elections for as long as I can remember, which contributed to the charged atmosphere, but also made it fun.
Counting all those ballots, by hand, with up to 14 names to read off each one, took well over four hours. Observers from both sides were alternately pleased or nervous as the hash-marks accumulated on the ballot counters’ tally sheets. Eventually, it was pretty clear that the DU slate was winning.
Ultimately, the DU slate swept the delegate and e-board elections. The accompanying table shows the results.
This episode teaches a few good lessons: fight political battles energetically; persist, year after year and continue to organize the Armenian community; build coalitions with those who have shared goals and approaches. Maybe in January 2017 you, too, will participate in an AD delegate election, or its equivalent in the Republican (or even other, minor) party. This kind of engagement builds the Armenian community’s political muscle. Join the efforts.
If you have competence in any of the areas mentioned, start looking for others and connecting with the right agencies in Yerevan and Stepanakert to help build Armenia’s touristic future.