As a parent to a misbehaving child, employer of a wayward employee, or friend of a substance abuser… how many times would you give her or him the benefit of the doubt, how many chances to correct her/him-self?
Would it be two? Three? Six?
At first, you might doubt yourself. Maybe you didn’t spend enough time with the child, or give clear instructions to the employee, or misjudged the addict’s behavior.
What if you try all kinds of approaches— reproachful, back-door/indirect, even cooperative?
What if the harm the person is doing is not just to her/himself, but the family, business or community, and even people totally unrelated to the person in question?
What if you start perceiving that the harm being inflicted might be intentional and all your well-intended efforts are being wasted, or that you’re being played?
When do you say “enough!”?
When do you start working on preventing future harm to more people in more serious settings with more grievous potential harm?
We have just this situation afflicting our communities in Glendale and its surrounding areas. It is in the electoral arena.
We have a community member who, for the past ten years has repeatedly run for office… seven different times, getting closest to succeeding on the one occasion when instead of fighting against the bulk of our community, there was cooperation.
Along the way, two other more viable Armenian candidates have lost, unquestionably because this person split the Armenian vote in two separate elections.
There are also two other occasions on which a total of three candidates in all likelihood got knocked out because of this person. And on the first go around, two others, along with the person in question didn’t make it in to office, though this case could fairly, though arguably, be described as a sub-optimal first attempt.
By now, you probably already know I’m referring to Chahe Keuoghelian. In the June third special election, he caused Vartan Gharpetian to lose. See the accompanying Table 1 (the numbers are not final, reflecting what the LA County Registrar’s office had posted as of June 4 at 3:06). He did the same thing in the April 13, 2010 Special Primary Election by persisting in running for the State Assembly when a more viable candidate from our community, Nayiri Nahabedian, was running for the position (see accompanying Table 2).
What’s important to recognize about these two elections is that they are absolute. A voter could choose ONLY ONE candidate. They were not at-large, multi-seat, elections the way Glendale and many other cities usually constitute their city councils. You will notice that in both cases, Chahe got fewer votes than the other Armenian candidate, and that the combined vote (Chahe + the other Armenian) would have put a candidate in the winning position.
You might argue that Chahe should be the one who gets our support. Unfortunately, let’s also acknowledge and stipulate that for a variety of reasons, Chahe is unlikely to get more than a token number of non-Armenian votes, whereas other Armenian candidates do appeal to everyone. Therefore, if he became “the” Armenian candidate, he’d probably still lose because by not getting non-Armenians’ support, the “winning Armenian” vote tally would decrease.
Take a look at Table 3. You will notice that Chahe did best the one time he cooperated with the rest of the community in 2013. He came in third when two people were going to be elected, and missed getting elected by just 356 votes out of 57,251, only 0.62%! In all his other efforts, he was twice removed from being elected, or worse. In other words, when two people were getting elected, he came in fourth (or fifth), when 3 were getting elected, sixth, etc.
All this time, Chahe has advocated “bullet voting” for him, i.e. even if a voter can choose up to three people, s/he would vote only for one. This is a technique which allows a given candidate to advance without other candidates also benefiting. This is not uncommon. But, Chahe’s version of bullet voting, at least as understood by his strongest supporters, is that NO other votes are cast, even for other offices. This means that while Chahe is running for city council, he’s (at least implicitly) advocating that his supporters not vote for school board, city clerk, treasurer, etc. This harms other candidates needlessly.
Another damaging practice Chahe has engaged in is bad-mouthing other Armenian individuals and organizations, rather than promoting himself as a candidate. What this does is create disgust in our community, leading some people to just not bother voting. The harm done to Armenian political credibility from this comes when our voter turnout rates end up being lower. Consequently, when issues of concern to the Armenian community arise, elected officials pay less attention.
It’s time to say “Enough, Chahe!”, because seven unsuccessful attempts at election should make it clear he is unelectable. It’s other people’s turn to try without getting harmed by a split vote in our community. Any further candidacies will only confirm what many people already believe—that Chahe is somehow being “paid off” to divide our community.
It’s time for Chahe’s closest friends and supporters to say, “Enough, Chahe. Even though we love you, the community’s interests and needs trump any one person’s aspirations.”
It’s time for people that Chahe meets on streets and in stores to say “Enough, Chahe.”