* Armenian-American voters come out in droves–despite heavy rains and a hail storm.
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
GLENDALE–Rafi Manoukian and Gus Gomez were elected Tuesday to the Glendale City Council–in a race which saw the greatest Armenian-American voter participation in recent years.
With all 44 precinct votes tallied–Gomez–a state deputy attorney general–garnered 6,944 votes (21.9 percent) and Manoukian–an accountant–a former chairman of the Armenian National Committee Glendale chapter and the ANC-endorsed candidate–won with 5,428 votes (17.1 percent).
They replace Mayor Eileen Givens and 16-year City Council member Larry Zarian who opted last year not to seek re-election to the council.
Rare-document dealer Mike Smith trailed Manoukian–garnering the third spot with 4,820 votes (15.2 percent)–with Board of Zoning Adjustment Commissioner Bob Yousefian garnering 4,698 votes (14.8 percent).
At 7:30 p.m.–Manoukian accompanied his wife Dzovig–to St. Mary’s Church hall–where he was met by more than 500 supporters–campaign workers and volunteers who had turned out to watch the results and cheer the candidate.
In his victory speech–Manoukian especially thanked the voters and stated that his campaign to serve all of Glendale was one of inclusion and ensuring the participation of all facets of the city.
Manoukian also thanked the droves of volunteers–canvassers and his campaign team for assisting in the three-month long run–emphasizing the importance of participation and a healthy outlook for the future.
"This was not a campaign about ‘us and them," this was a campaign about us–the city of Glendale," said Manoukian.
Manoukian and his wife walked on stage to cheering applause and chants of "Rafi–Rafi–Rafi…" by the excited crowd–after being invited up by outgoing council member Zarian.
Also joining him on stage briefly was City Council member Sheldon Baker–who congratulated Manoukian and expressed anticipation for working with him in the city council. Mayor Givens also dropped by to extend her best wishes to Manoukian. Third place candidate Smith also stopped by the church hall to convey his congratulations to Manoukian.
Chairman of the Glendale Armenian National Committee–Artin Manougian–expressed the ANC’s warmest congratulations to Manoukian and stressed that the night’s victory also belonged to the voters–who came out to show all nay-sayers in the city that the community did–in fact–have a voice in the political process.
Among other well-wishers were Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian. Rev. Vasken Atmadjian–on behalf of Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian and the Prelacy Executive and Religious councils–congratulated Manoukian–wishing his success as a leader in Glendale.
Representatives from the Armenian Relief Society–the Homenetmen "Ararat" chapter–the Armenian Youth Federation and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation were all on hand to express their support and encouragement.
The mood–in general was festive at the Manoukian victory party. The sense of victory for the community emanated far before any official results were announced–since the community knew–full well–that its participation in the elections was a turning point and–perhaps–a signal for change in the new century.
The campaign which culminated in Tuesday’s election was marred by accusations and efforts to undermine–or call into question–the Armenian vote. A small–albeit vocal–segment of the city opted to cast doubt on the intentions of the Armenian-American participation in the elections–by ignoring that the Armenian community was merely an exercise of their constitutional rights.
The massive number of Armenian-American voters cast doubt on the divisive pundits and elemen’s within the city–among them the Glendale News Press–that the Armenian-American community can make a difference.
Total ballots cast: 17,547
Total voters registered: 77,306
Percentage turnout: 22.7
Candidate Votes /Pct.
Gus Gomez 6,944 /21.9
Rafi Manoukian 5,428 /17.1
Mike Smith 4,820 /15.2
Bob Yousefian 4,698 /14.8
Larry Miller 3,479 /11.0
Nick Doom 2,039 / 6.4
Dave Wallis 1,463 /4.6
Erica Passman 747 /2.4
Georgi Robinson 719 /2.3
Joe Mandoky 491 /1.5
John Beach 443 /1.4
Jeff Lushbaugh 209 /0.6
Kat Bayati 199 /0.6