BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Yerevan is scheduling elections for December, and we’ll get to that topic in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the U.S. will hold its biennial election on November 6. That’s what this article is about, focused on California and Los Angeles County. Two other key dates, for California are October 22, obviously already past, which was the deadline to register to vote (if you missed it for this time, register online anyway so you’ll be ready for next time) and October 30, the deadline by which your vote-by-mail request must be received.
A few broad observations are in order. First, those who have Washington D.C. experience have told me that a divided Congress, with one house under Democratic control and the other Republican, tends to be more beneficial to Armenian interests. So my recommendation is to vote for Democratic candidates whenever that is a viable option or there is not a specific contrary endorsement made by the ANCA. In some districts and states, the party affiliation and high propensity voters are so lopsidedly one major party or the other that it is extremely difficult to elect a candidate from the “weaker” party. This is sometimes simply due to that jurisdiction’s people’s political propensities – this usually happens at the full state level which impacts Senate, gubernatorial, and other statewide elections. When we get to districted elections (House of Representatives or state legislatures), the picture changes somewhat because they are often gerrymandered so as to contrive a majority for one major party or the other. Gerrymandering was taken to an unprecedented level by Republicans after the 2010 census and the redistricting that followed, creating a significant advantage for that party that has helped it secure majorities in the House of Representatives and state legislatures.
Despite all this, the Democrats have a serious chance to take control of the House because of yet another factor – anti-Trump sentiment. This president has energized his own opposition through the unusual (to be kind and polite) approach to “governing” that he has adopted.
Let’s throw in one more complication. Despite the need to flip the House, no community or interest group can afford to, or would, work against those who have supported its issues. That’s why the ANCA’s endorsements are mixed-party. Perhaps the best example of this is the Nevada race in which Danny Tarkanian is a candidate. He is running as a Republican. He is an
Armenian which naturally attracts our community’s attention. Most importantly, he is good on issues of concern to us. I know many politically-left leaning Armenians are aghast at his pro-Trump positions and the endorsement he received from the ANCA. But, electoral politics is a matter of electing those who will stand up for your interests.
A very interesting endorsement is that of Kevin de Leon for Senator from California. This is one of those situations where we are presented with the luxury of two candidates who have both been good on Armenian issues, but with one being somewhat better than the other. The incumbent, Diane Feinstein has been in office for a long time and a change is probably in order. Interestingly, even though both are Democrats, it seems that support for de Leon is rising among Republicans, despite his being the more left-leaning of the two. There is one ANCA endorsement, that of Rep. Duncan Hunter in California’s 50th congressional district that worries me. He (along with his wife) is under indictment on various charges. Backing someone in that position, despite whatever prior relationship may have existed, is not the best course of action to my mind. You’ll notice the ANCA does not have an endorsement for California Attorney General. That’s because the incumbent, Xavier Becerra, has not been very receptive to Armenian concerns. The Republican candidate, Steven Bailey, has no chance of winning in California, so the only benefit of voting for him is to register a protest – feel free to do so.
Three Armenians are running for city council in places where we don’t often see Armenian candidates, and they are very viable. If you live in these cities, be sure to vote for them – James Bozajian in Calabasas running for re-election, Ashod Mooradian (currently City Treasurer) who would be only the second Armenian elected in Montebello despite that city’s storied Armenian presence, and Kev Abazajian in Irvine. For more local endorsements, I refer you to the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter for good recommendations, if you live in cities I haven’t addressed. I should also point out that because of recent California legislation, most cities have been effectively coerced into moving their elections to November, so you will have more things to vote on at once. This is the subject of a whole separate article, but it explains why so many more local ballot measures are before the voters this year.
Before moving on to ballot measures, let’s address the judgeships appearing on the California ballot. Please vote yes to retain all the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Justices. In Los Angeles County, there are four Superior Court positions up. My recommendations, based on meeting on of them and a politically seasoned friend advice, are: Office 4: Veronica Sauceda;
Office 16: Patricia Patti Hunter; Office 60: Tony Cho; Office 113: Javier Perez Office.
There are eleven California measures (originally twelve, with one being removed by the California Supreme Court) on the ballot that voters are facing.
Proposition 1 provides additional funding for low income citizens’ housing. You will see the housing theme repeatedly over the next few years since California faces a housing shortage which has contributed to ridiculously high costs. Vote YES
Proposition 2 enables the funding of housing for those with mental illness who are homeless. Vote YES.
Proposition 3 is flawed in that it provides funding for dams (repairs, some of which should really come from the federal government), it is overall a beneficial measure and should be supported. Vote YES.
Proposition 4 is a measure that no one with a conscience should even consider voting against since it funds children’s health care, particularly through the construction or improvement of hospitals. Vote YES.
Proposition 5 is good in that it attempts to address some of California’s taxation problems, particularly property taxes. But this proposition ends up being a give-away to wealthier homeowners while pretending to “help” lower- or fixed-income seniors. Vote NO.
Proposition 6 was put on the ballot by Republicans who sought to motivate right-wing voters to turn out so they would also vote for various Republican candidates. It doesn’t solve any problems, in fact, it creates problems by underfunding other transportation infrastructure which is in dire need of maintenance. Vote NO.
Proposition 7 is a technicality. It enables the state legislature to make daylight savings time permanent, that is, year round. BUT, the legislature can’t do anything unless the federal government allows it to. I happen to thing daylight savings time is a foolish scheme and would like to see it eliminated altogether. Its “benefits” are questionable as even the proponents of this measure unintentionally admit. Vote NO.
Proposition 8 is the most important one on this ballot. The only people really opposed to it are a small number of kidney dialysis companies who are ripping people off. It’s a huge scam they’re running. Please read the October 14 LA Times article “Why dialysis providers want to kill Prop. 8” where you will learn how these companies get $2000-4500 (and sometimes even more) from private insurance companies vs. $260 from Medicare. They have elaborate schemes to switch patients off Medicare. It turns out they are the main reason insurance companies have pulled out of Obamacare in some jurisdictions! That’s how badly the dialysis companies are fleecing us. This proposition stops their scam. Don’t believe anything you hear in opposition to this measure since these companies had put up $99 million to fight it, and that’s as of a few weeks ago! That’s how desperate they are to kill it. Vote YES.
Proposition 10 enables rent control ordinances to be passed in local jurisdictions by changing current California law which effectively blocks cities from adopting such measures. This is a necessary measure to help restore affordability to housing in California. Vote YES.
Proposition 11 is a bit confusing. It pretends to be about delivering emergency medical services but it’s really about labor issues. The question is whether emergency medical services workers should be on call during their breaks and whether that should be paid or not. If I’m in a life threatening situation, I want those folks to be refreshed and at prime working ability, not beaten down by being prevented from getting real rest. Vote NO
Proposition 12 is a bit of a tossup for me. It helps improve the miserable treatment that farm animals are subjected to. But I thought some of these concerns had already been addressed. It has minimal fiscal impact on the state, so there’s not much harm that can be done and opposition to it is out of line with what it proposes. Vote YES.
On the LA County portion of the ballot is Measure W which raises the funds to implement required improvements to the county’s rain/stormwater management infrastructure. Currently, wastes are washed into the ocean and groundwater is not well recharged. This measure authorizes a 2.5 cent parcel tax for each square foot of impermeable (the building and paved areas) surface on a property. This is a long discussed and overdue measure which will enable the county to start coming into compliance with standards. Vote YES
A repeating theme on this year’s is ballot miniscule local tax increases to save cities and schools from a very dire financial situation. Besides the need, there is also a concern that if these measures are not passed now, LA county might try to implement such a sales tax measure in the near future, creating a serious obstacle. The law precludes sales tax rates from going higher than 10.25% and the proposed .75% increases put these cities at that cap. I strongly recommend voting yes if one of those is on your ballot.
In cities three heavily Armenian populated cities, such measures are on the ballot. Burbank’s Measure P is a .75% sales tax funding the city’s services and Measure QS is a 10-cents per square foot of improvements (buildings) parcel tax which would fund the school district’s educational programs. In Glendale, it’s Measure S that proposes a .75% increase in the local sales tax. And in Pasadena, Measure I does the same, with Measure J being advisory in nature to test if citizens agree with giving 1/3 of the revenue from the increase to Pasadena’s schools. I emphatically urge you to vote yes on all of these if you live in these cities. Otherwise, you will pay in other ways in the very near future.
In the City of Los Angeles, Measure B amends the city charter to permit the city council to establish a municipal bank. This is a fantastic idea because it would enable the creation of a financial institution that is service, not obscene-level-profit driven. It would fund small, startup businesses and help with the development of the city. Vote YES. Also, Measure E is a cleanup measure made necessary by the change in election date to November. Vote YES.
If you live within the limits of LA Unified School District, a measure analogous to Measure E in the previous paragraph will be on your ballot. Vote YES.
Finally, whatever you may think of all these recommendations, make sure to get out and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!