BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Yes, believe it or not, in just over seven weeks, at the November 4 general election, you’ll be pulling the lever to vote for both blazing and bland candidates in occasionally exciting races. (Remember those old machines where you selected your candidates, or just the party, then pulled a lever to record your vote? I never used one but recall seeing them in my high school.)
This article will cover the easier, mostly no-brainer races, and only in California. Over the next few weeks we’ll get to some of the hotter and messier races, including ballot measures. Please remember the still relatively new system adopted by California whereby only the top two vote-getters advance from the Primary Election (held June 3) to the upcoming General Election. As a result, in an overwhelming majority of the races, only Democratic and Republican candidates appear on the ballot. In a few legislative races, some “NPP” (no party preference) candidates made it past the Primary and some districts produced Dem-vs-Dem or Rep-vs-Rep runoffs for the upcoming General!
Of the eight state-wide offices in California, six involve incumbents (five Democratic candidates and the Superintendent’s position being non-partisan), all of whom are very unlikely to be beaten. Also, by and large, they have done a good job. I recommend voting for all of them:
Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
Treasurer John Chiang
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
It gets a little more interesting when we get to the Secretary of State race. Both Alex Padilla (Dem) and Pete Peterson (Rep) are competent candidates for this position. But, Padilla’s legislative experience gives him an advantage in the effectiveness he’ll bring to the job. Also, given California’s Democratic voter registration advantage, he’s likely to win regardless. I recommend voting for Padilla. The State Controller’s race is similar. Ashley Swearengin (Rep) and Betty T. Yee (Dem) got fairly close results, given that six candidates were vying for the two runoff spots that produced a real nail-biter of a close race. Once again, the Democratic edge probably means Yee will win. But more importantly, Swearingin’s shenanigans against her own constituents as Fresno’s Mayor disqualify her for a position as sensitive as the elections officer of the whole state, which requires a strong sensitivity to the principles of representative democracy. I recommend voting for Yee.
Some of the easy California legislative races, from an Armenian community perspective, are Adrin Nazarian for the 46th and Katcho Achadjian (who is unfortunately term-limited after two more years… maybe he’ll run for State Senate) for the 35th Assembly districts. In the heart of the densest Armenian community, given, yet again, the Democratic voter registration edge, Cong. Adam Schiff, one of the strongest voices in Washington on Armenian issues, and well deserving of your vote, and Assemblymember Mike Gatto (who is termed out after 2016) will also likely win. There are many other legislative offices, and for the most part, I’ll defer to ANCA’s endorsements, due to be released over the coming weeks.
Finally (for this installment of my election articles), this November, Californians will vote “yes” or “no” on whether to retain three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of California— Goodwin Liu, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. These are people who have already been thoroughly vetted, are currently serving, and have not engendered public antipathy. So, vote “yes” on all three.
Please remember to vote. If you are registered as a permanent absentee voter, you’ll receive your ballot— just fill it out and send it in. If not, you will get a sample ballot book on the back of which is a request for an absentee ballot, fill out that form and mail it IMMEDIATELY, and you, too, will be able to vote from the comfort of home. Remember, cliché though it may sound, our vote is our voice. If you care about yourself and the interests of the Armenian community, you should make sure not to miss this opportunity to strengthen our political presence by participating in the November election.