SAN FRANCISCO–Armenian American Jackie Kanchelian Speier took her oath of office Thursday to become the second Armenian-American member of the 110th Congress.
Speier swept to a resounding victory last night, receiving close to 80 percent of the vote in a special election in California’s 12th Congressional District, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.) Speier will be joining Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-14) as the only other Armenian American legislator in the 110th Congress.
"We are encouraged to see Jackie Speier, a tremendously talented public servant and proud daughter of the Armenian people, elected to represent the citizens of California’s 12th Congressional District," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "She comes to Washington with a proven track record of legislative achievement in California, and we look forward to working with her on issues of shared concern."
Speier won the special election on April 8th, which was scheduled after Rep. Tom Lantos’ untimely passing earlier this year when he succumbed to esophageal cancer. In a field of five candidates, Representative-elect Speier won an impressive 77.9% of the vote, with the remaining candidates receiving less than 10% each.
San Francisco-Bay Area ANC activists played a significant role in all facets of the Jackie Speier for Congress campaign. Armenian Americans volunteered regularly in phone banking and other get-out-the-vote efforts coordinated by the local ANC chapter. Through the leadership of the Armenian National Committee Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC), Armenian Americans from across the U.S., at events and over the internet, raised funds for her election bid.
Speier has been active on Armenian American concerns throughout her years in the California state legislature. During her tenure in Sacramento, she authored 16 bills related to Armenian issues. In 1989, she advocated for the law mandating the Department of Education to include instruction on the Armenian Genocide in public schools. Every year thereafter, she co-sponsored the resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide, including the 2005 bill that made the commemoration permanent law. In her final term, Speier introduced a measure that allows Armenian Genocide victims or their beneficiaries to file claims against banks doing business in California that refuse to pay for deposited or looted assets of Armenian Genocide victims.
"When I get elected to Congress, the epicenter of Armenian American representation in Congress will be right here," said Speier, who was a keynote speaker at this year’s March 8th San Francisco Bay Area ANC "Hai Tad" Evening along with Hamparian. She pledged to continue the fight for justice for the Armenian Genocide and rally support for Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, limiting aid to Azerbaijan, until it lifts its blockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. "Turkey cannot strangle Armenia into submission by circumventing Armenia’s territory in every regional infrastructure project. Turkey must include Armenia in these projects, because this is the only way to lasting peace," Speier said.
Speier will participate in the upcoming June Congressional primary election for the seat, and as the presumptive nominee, she is expected to run in the November general election for the 111th Congress, which will convene in January 2009.