LOS ANGELES–On Sunday–June 26–over 700 community activists–public officials–and Democratic Party leaders gathered at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles–California to honor Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s top activists for 2004-2005. Honorees were nominated by their local Assembly District Democratic clubs and local leaders for outstanding service and leadership within the Democratic Party.
Over 23 other Assembly Districts were represented at the awards with two honorees from each district.
Newly elected City Clerk of Glendale–Ardashes "Ardy" Kassakhian was selected as the Democrat of the Year for Los Angeles County’s 43rd Assembly District–which includes the areas of Burbank–Glendale–and Los Angeles (Griffith Park–Los Feliz–North Hollywood–Toluca Lake). Kassakhian received the Frank and Eleanor Roosevelt Award along with acknowledgmen’s and recognitions from federal–state–and local officials for his work in registering and educating Armenian-American voters as well as for fighting for official US reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
Kassakhian is widely recognized as a leading voice for political activism amongst Armenian-Americans–particularly the Armenian youth. His passion for activism harkens back to his days as a student at University of California–Los Angeles where while he studied History and Near Eastern Cultures he served as the President of the UCLA Armenian Students Association. He was at the forefront of the community wide effort to stop the Turkish Government’s attempt to establish a Chair of Modern Turkish History at UCLA.
Kassakhian went on to work on local campaigns for both state and federal elections not only in California–but in Washington–DC as well. While at UCLA–he participated in the University’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy Program in Washington–DC. During the program–Kassakhian interned in Congress for both Republican and Democratic members’ offices and worked on his thesis outlining the successes and failures of the Armenian lobby in securing recognition for the Armenian Genocide.
On April 5–2005–Kassakhian became the youngest Armenian-American elected to public office in the US when he was elected City Clerk of Glendale–California with an overwhelming majority of the votes in a 9 person race. Prior to running for office–Kassakhian served as the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region–a position he held for three years. While at the ANCA–he worked closely with members of the state legislature and members of the US Senate and Congress on passing such bills as California Senate Bill 165–which set to establish the California-Armenia trade office and California Assembly Bill 2003 that will enhance the human rights curriculum for California public school teachers’ regards on the subject of genocide awareness.