BY BERDJ KARAPETIAN
CONGRATULATIONS!!! We won in Little Armenia, Hollywood. A slate of candidates including an Armenian-American with an appeal to non-Armenian voters won election to the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council. Congratulations to Christina A. Khanjian. Congratulations to the Hollywood Armenian National Committee. Congratulations to the Los Feliz Forward slate of candidates.
Will the lessons from the elections in Hollywood this year and Glendale last year help us learn what we should do to better represent the Armenian residents of the 43rd Assembly District? Will we appreciate the necessity of developing a broad base of support to represent constituents of an ethnically diverse Assembly District?
Will we re-elect an Armenian-American to the 43rd Assembly District seat?
On Saturday, March 20, 2010, the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council, which includes the “Little Armenia” neighborhood, held elections to choose 10 district representatives from among 23 candidates. Over 1300 voters cast their ballots making it the largest turnout for the Neighborhood Council and one of the largest citywide.
Mrs. Khanjian wanted to represent a cross section of an economically, ethnically, and politically diverse community. She worked with Armenians as well as non-Armenians in the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood for workable solutions to the issues faced by the residents and businesses in the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood.
A number of us have been writing these articles for the past few weeks with the hope that voters of the 43rd Assembly District will again elect a person of Armenian ancestry to the seat vacated by Paul Krekorian.
There are three candidates on the April 13 special election seeking to represent the Democratic Party in the June 8 run-off election. Two candidates enjoy strong support within the Armenian community and one does not. The two candidates are Nayiri Nahabedian and Chahe Keuroghelian. Two candidates enjoy support from a wide group of non-Armenians and one does not. These two candidates are Nayiri Nahabedian and Mike Gatto
All three candidates are good persons with a remarkable record of service in the geographic area they want to represent. All three candidates understand that one cannot get elected to the 43rd Assembly District without gaining a broad base of support. To get a broad base of support you need to reach out to the voters whose support you seek and you need to demonstrate a record of collaborating with them in the past. The reality is that only one candidate has reached out to a broad base of voters and enjoys the support of a broad base of voters.
Here is where there is a convergence with the experience of the recent election in Hollywood.
A Little Armenia resident told me he saw dozens of young and old Armenian-Americans standing in line for more than 40 minutes to vote. He state “while we were many, we were not the majority.”
In the 43rd Assembly District, the more than 32,000 registered voters of Armenian descent are 16 percent of the registered voters. This is many but by far not the majority of the more than 200,000 registered voters.
While the number of voters of Armenian descent is large it is not large enough to elect a person who does not have a broad base of support in the non-Armenian community.
To get this support you need to have collaborated with all segments of the community and communicated with them. I regret to say that Mr. Gatto has done very little to communicate and seek the Armenian community support. He has not sent any mailers in Armenian. He did not advertise in Armenian newspapers or on television programs. He did not participate in the candidate forum organized by the Unified Young Armenians organization. He has not demonstrated that he wants our votes. Perhaps, he thought Chahe Keuroghelian’s candidacy was enough to divide the Armenian vote and lower the Armenian turn out.
Mr. Keuroghelian has had very little success with getting support from non-Armenians. I have been following this campaign closely and it does not appear that he has devoted a sufficient portion of his very limited resources to gaining non-Armenian votes.
Nayiri Nahabedian, on the other hand, has secured endorsements and support from a broad base of people. She has the endorsements of several influential Armenian and non-Armenian organizations including teachers, women, and labor unions. She has raised the funds from a broad base of supporters and used the funds to communicate with non-Armenian as well as Armenian voters. She has articulated views and positions that appeal to the widest cross-section of the residents of the district.
It is a no-brainer. Of the two Armenian-American candidates, she has the better chance of being elected. Will Mr. Keuroghelian accept this and make it possible for the Armenian Community to be united behind one candidate? It does not appear so.