By Vahe Peroomian
My quality time with my daughter Tara is a precisely timed 11 minutes every morning as I drive her to school. During this time–we talk about many subjects–as varied as the phases of the moon and why the moon can sometimes be seen during the daytime–her performance on one test or another–and–recently–the upcoming elections in Glendale.
Tara is only seven years old (seven and a half–if you ask her)–but she’s already voted in every election in the last three years. No–this is not a case of voting early and often la Chicago of the early 20th Century. She takes pride in accompanying me to the voting booth–carefully arranging the sample ballot next to the ballot–punching–or more recently–coloring in my/her choices–and receiving an "I Voted" sticker for her effort.
I have watched Tara’s political knowledge grow by leaps and bounds in the last several years. She has gone from blindly punching the ballot (remind you of any adults you know?)–to asking why we’re voting for someone–identifying lawn signs–and even pointing out our two possible polling stations–both of which happen to be on our drive to school.
Her most recent request–though–clearly caught me off guard. Our mailbox hasn’t been spared the deluge of colorful candidate mailers and pre-filled absentee ballot request cards that are characteristic of every election season. A couple of days ago–I mentioned that I needed to send in my absentee ballot request–as election day was bound to be hectic–and the number of charter amendmen’s on the ballot would ensure long lines at the polling stations. Tara was adamant–though. She’d rather vote in person. Somehow–to her young mind–voting absentee did not carry the same weight–the same significance–as going through the effort of voting in person. I had to make sure that this was not about the "I Voted" sticker. It was not. She was very clear–as every demanding seven year old can be–that we were not going to vote absentee–even if it meant that we would have to leave the house 30 minutes earlier than normal on April 5.
I wish that everyone is faced with a similar dilemma during this election: to vote in person or absentee. What I was hoping to instill in my daughter when I taught her about the electoral process–was a sense of what it takes to run a city or a nation–to give her firsthand knowledge of what she would eventually learn in her civics classes. She has voted with equal enthusiasm in every election she’s voted in–local and statewide special elections–statewide primaries–and the most recent presidential election. To her–every election is as eventful as any other–and that should be Tara’s lesson for everyone. Is a presidential election really more important than a local election? Absolutely not. After all–the most divisive issue in Glendale isn’t whether we’re a red city or a blue city embedded within a blue state–but how densely to build on our hillsides–how to accommodate the lower-income segment of our city’s populace–how to best serve the diverse population of the city–how to navigate from one end of Glendale to the other in less than one hour–and many similar issues that the President of the United States has no interest in even being cognizant of.
The April 5th elections are in fact historic in many respects. The City of Glendale will celebrate its 100th birthday next year. Yet–never before has there been so much interest in city elections. The last time there was an actual contest for the office of City Clerk–75 years ago–our citizens were still giddy with the roaring 20s. Now–we have nine candidates for this position. Nineteen is the magic number of city council candidates–their names–backgrounds–and the issues they represent as diverse as the Jewel City they hope to represent and lead. None of the contests in this election are a formality. Simply put–everyone in Glendale has an opinion on these issues; everyone wants their voice to be heard. Where else in the US would you get more of a turnout for a local special election than a presidential election as contentious as that of November past?
Tara is also curious about the choices we’ll be making on Election Day. She’s grilled me like no candidate forum could–and I think she trusts her dad’s explanation of the long process by which the Armenian National Committee reached its endorsement decisions. After all–the number of times I’ve had to tell her I’ll be coming home late because of meetings has increased exponentially in the last two months. Having evaluated every single candidate–and having interviewed many of the electoral hopefuls–I feel that I’m not misleading my child or anyone else in the community.
What everyone should obviously do is vote–regardless of whether they take the time to evaluate each candidate themselves–or trust the ANC’s judgment as to what’s best for our community–in general–and Armenia’s residing in Glendale–in particular. If you haven’t already voted absentee–Tara and I hope to see you in line on Election Day.