By Garen Yegparian
It’s election time again and our good buddies–the Electoral Idiots (EIs) have ventured forth anew to wreak political ruin for our community. This time around the stakes are higher–not just city council seats–but a State Assembly seat; in California; one of only 80; governing some 36 million people–almost 12.5% of the US population.
For those not living in California’s 43rd Assembly District–this may seem remote–irrelevant–and possibly an outright waste of ink–but please–read on. You may come to change your mind since the issues arising in this race can teach universal lessons. And see my recommendations for statewide elected office and a smattering of other races.
Let’s establish–affirmatively–what our community’s goals should be in the electoral realm. It will serve as a reference point for evaluating EI behavior. It seems simple and straightforward to me. We should develop interested–talented people. We should advocate strong engagement with the broader host communities we live in on the political level. We should break down barriers to civic/political participation by members of our community. We should put forward for election those among us who have demonstrated competence and integration–as the culmination of the individual’s and our community’s efforts. We should actively dissuade those "not yet ready for prime time" from running. We should not be held hostage to the facile argument of "support me just because I’m Armenian." We should not tolerate those who run for office in our name but are unwilling to heed our community’s needs. We should penalize those who act in ways detrimental to our interests.
The cast of EIs is somewhat different than last year. Some are back for a return engagement–others are newbies. But what’s ironic is that this time–they’re not even running for office. They’re just acting as spoilers for someone else. You gotta wonder what motivates some of these pathetic creatures.
Is it money? Is it a moment of glory and visibility? Is it sheer sniveling? Is it the Homo Ottomanicus syndrome I’ve described? Is it hatred–of self or competing organizations and people? No matter–the outcome is the same–our community suffers.
Here’s the scoop. In the 43rd–whoever wins the Democratic Primary on June 6 has the November election locked up–this thanks to the last round of gerrymandering by the legislature. The 43rd is also home to the largest number of Armenia’s of any Assembly District in California. This is one we should truly have significant–if not determinant–sway over. This year–we even have a competent Armenian candidate–Paul Krekorian–not an EI such as those who played spoilers in Glendale’s election last year. There is another candidate in the Democratic primary–Frank Quintero–along with one each on the Republican and Libertarian slates. Not surprisingly–the contested Democratic primary is generating some heat–but it has taken an ugly turn during the last few days.
The County Registrar of Voters has been sending out letters to some voters in the 43rd requiring confirmation of their signature on the vote-by-mail (VBM) request form they had submitted. It seems the Registrar didn’t like the signature; it wasn’t close enough to the original. Here–let me share a story from my experience. Last year–I registered all four members of a family–my neighbors. When the time came to vote–they opted to VBM. Two of the four had no problems. One was able to vote–but only after extended discussions–close to two hours–via telephone–with the Registrar’s office–with me. The other had to report to the City Clerk’s office to be able to vote. Why? The Registrar didn’t like the signature–not on the VBM form–but the original voter registration! Who gave these people the right to dictate what someone’s signature ought to look like? You can see that the Registrar is not perfect. Couple this with the understandable difficulty many employees have with our names–and you’ve got a recipe for serious–ongoing headaches.
Quintero’s campaign has taken the Registrar’s queries–chosen to interpret them as fraud–and promulgated this "finding" through a press conference on the steps of the Glendale post office. Among those in attendance and speaking was a bigot with a record of spewing anti-Armenian poison during Glendale City Council meetings. This creature "rhetorically" asked if it wasn’t illegal for people to assist aging voters in their homes. Can you fathom the unmitigated gall?
An Armenian organization noted for its virtual non-existence was also on display and spoke its piece. This show generated a lot of media coverage–the same media that was virtually silent (LA Times–Daily News–Burbank Leader) or favoring Quintero (Glendale News Press) through much of the campaign. Of course our EIs have chimed in–amplifying Quintero’s spurious accusations through their organizations–TV shows–and plain old word of mouth. Have they no shame?
Some of these Armenia’s may have legitimate PERSONAL concerns and interests in supporting Quintero. These could and should be quietly–discretely pursued. Most do not have even this excuse at their disposal. But duplicitously attempting to transform such concerns into our community’s interests is the height of arrogance and selfishness. For example–the chair of the Armenia Fund has no business supporting Quintero when the bulk of our community is behind Krekorian. This demonstrates poor judgment that reflects poorly on and damages the credibility of a valuable institution we need to support our homeland.
Organizations that have little or no support in the community are using this as an opportunity to promote themselves–hoping that if Quintero wins–the crumbs he’ll toss their way will allow them to gain standing among Armenia’s. This latter class of people–better yet slugs–are those who would’ve sided with the Turks during the Genocide–as a friend poignantly observed.
Quintero is fortunate to have these slugs at his disposal. They seem willing to do anything to divide our community and weaken it–whether now–during Genocide commemorations–or last year’s elections. Krekorian’s campaign has registered over 1500 new voters and helped thousands new to the voting process navigate their way through it. Naturally this scares an opponent. It seems to have driven him to the world of slime–and who better to provide it than our community’s slugs?
Over the next few days as these slugs "march" on–poisoning the atmosphere–ask them what–why–when–how–who. When they holler "fraud," ask them according to whom? Has the (faulty) Registrar said so? On what grounds? Has this case been prosecuted? Who’s been found guilty by what court? Just poke a thousand holes in their argumen’s–it’s not difficult–particularly when it’s on one of the numerous call-in shows serving our community. Remember–this is about electing the most competent–decent–and forthcoming candidate–Paul Krekorian. Imagine what we can expect of a candidate who resorts to such slimy tactics during his campaign once he’s elected? It does not become you–Mr. Quintero.
Be sure to vote. Be sure to vote for Paul Krekorian if you’re in the district. And take a look at my other picks in the accompanying box. I’ve only selected names when more than one person is running in a given party’s primary. I won’t pretend to explain my choices of candidates. It’s far too messy for such a small space. Regarding Propositions 81 and 82–both introduce long needed programs–and the latter also has the added benefit of making the wealthiest among us pay their fair share.
Proposition 81: Yes
Proposition 82: Yes
Phil Angelides (Democratic)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republican)
Jackie Speier (Democratic)
Tom McClintock (Republican)
SECRETARY OF STATE
Debra Bowen (Democratic)
Joe Dunne (Democratic)
Abel Maldonado (Republican)
Keith S. Richman (Republican)
Jerry Brown (Democratic)
Cruz Bustamante (Democratic)
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
Jack T. O’Connell (Nonpartisan race)
SENATE DISTRICT 20
Cindy Montanez (Democratic)
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 44
Anthony Portantino (Democratic)