BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
That’s the dilemma we all face, right? “For whom should I vote?” is what we’re pondering as we’re lumbering to the polling booth to vote or mail box to send in our ballots. “For whom should I vote?” is what we’re wondering when we realize, as sometimes happens, that there are no good choices. “For whom should I vote?” is what we’re muttering about when it hits us that politics truly does make for strange bedfellows.
This piece contains elements of all that from three different cities’ —Burbank, Los Angeles, and Glendale— elections. Let’s start with the first two, since they’re relatively easy, and the headaches reside, as has often been the case in recent years, in Glendale’s electoral scene.
In Burbank, the choices are easy and affirmative for members of that city’s Armenian community in the April 9 General election. For Council, vote for David Gordon and Jess Talamantes. Gordon was the strongest advocate of funding for the Armenian Relief Society’s Social Service program when that application was met with opposition from another council member (who is also currently running for reelection. Talamantes has been supportive of the community’s needs and himself approached the Burbank ANCA seeking to cooperate even though he had not received the organization’s endorsement four years ago when he first ran and got elected. For school board, vote for Larry Applebaum and Steve Ferguson. Applebaum has helped Homenetmen with its needs for facilities (for sports teams) on countless occasions. Ferguson has worked on numerous Armenian candidates’ campaigns and really gets it when it comes to minority communities’ needs. I also recommend voting Yes on Measure S which establishes a small, 2%, fee to pay for sewer and related services (not to be confused with the Measure S that already passed to help Burbank’s schools).
For Los Angeles, I can’t give you advice on all the races yet. We still have time, since that election is on May 21. But in the mayoral, there is a problem. But it is one of the good kind. Both candidates, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, have been close to and supportive of the Armenian community. Both have strong supporters within the community. So it’s going to be a choice between good and good for LA’s Armenians.
Of course Glendale has its headaches. I’m going to work my way up from the simplest to the thorniest. For City Clerk, the choice is unbelievably easy, Ardashes Kassakhian who’s beloved by all in and out of the city, except by the forces I discuss below. In the school board race, Glendale ANCA’s endorsements are for Greg Krikorian (the long-time incumbent), Armine Gharpetian, and Jennifer Freemon. For City treasurer, there’s only one candidate, Rafi Manoukian. But, here’s where it gets complicated. There are three ballot measures, A, B and C. Vote “no” on all three. In particular, Measure C must be defeated. It seems to have been put on the ballot strictly to hurt Manoukian by changing the City Treasurer position from being elected to appointed. If “C” passes, then Manoukian is prevented from taking the position, even though he is running unopposed.
Now, for the messy part. You are no doubt aware that a hit was orchestrated against the best Armenian city council candidate, Zareh Sinanyan, running in this election. This was done via a very ugly smear campaign by anti-Armenian forces within and around the City of Glendale. For clarity, by “anti-Armenian”, I don’t mean they hate Armenians (though they take advantage of such sentiments held by some in the city). I mean that for their political gain, they think they have to exclude the Armenian community from an effective, strong presence on the political scene.
This smear campaign has to be countered. The anti-Armenian political faction has to be forced to recognize that these tactics are unacceptable. The only way to achieve this is by having three Armenians elected and shutting out the anti-Armenian faction’s candidates. So, I was glad to see the Glendale ANCA endorsing Zareh Sinanyan, Ara Najarian, and Chahe Keuroghlian. Yes, I am supporting Chahe Keuroghlian, despite his destructive political history. And, even though many in our community are displeased at how Ara Najarian handled the smear against Zareh, Ara is still the person to vote for. This type of sweeping victory for our community should halt, once and for all, the anti-Armenian, hate-mongering, tactics that plague many of our community’s candidates. Zareh’s an easy choice, Ara should be voted for, and even if you have to hold your nose to do it, vote for Chahe. Our community’s best interests require that these three get elected. Please, make it happen.
Please vote, even if you don’t take my recommendations. Our participation in civic life through elections is incredibly important. Don’t miss the opportunity. Vote, vote, vote!
Great article Garen. Just a minor correction, Measure A is the one intended to hurt Rafi’s chances to be Treasurer by changing it from an elected position to an appointed one. That said, vote NO on all three measures.
How is it appropriate to say “our community’s best interests REQUIRE that these three get elected” yet you criticize those you call “anti-Armenian” for voting for non-Armenians?
Racism is racism. Voting for “our” community for the sole purpose of excluding non-Armenians who may be more qualified (Chahe’s issues in mind here) is simply racist. If a non-Armenian went to the press requesting everyone to vote for anyone other than an Armenian candidate … that would be abhorrent and appropriately criticized by everyone. How is it any different if it comes from the other side?
Is being Armenian the only qualification to get our vote? Using the same logic, non-Armenians can also urge their voters to support someone just becausee they are not Armenian.
How would the Armenians like it if non-Armenians tell their people to oppose all candidates that are Armenian. Do you see how this logic works?
I don’t believe we can ever evolve in the art of politics. We’ve had enough chances to mature, but all we’ve done is learn nothing from past experiences. When it comes to creating animosity, we WIN all the time….