Within a few days, maximum a week, of when you read this, Californians who are registered voters will be receiving their Tuesday, June 7, Presidential Primary Election ballots (if they vote by mail — VBM) or sample ballots (if traditional polling place voters). On Primary Day polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In fact, the state’s Official Voter Information Guide has already been received. There’s also a Nevada race that is important for Armenians.
Very possibly, this is the easiest election I have ever written about. Only one ballot measure, a presidential primary that is half done, and obvious choices for most of the down-ballot elections. Enjoy it while it lasts, since November’s election is going to be massive and complex.
At the risk of boring readers, let me cover a few basics. These apply to California. Each state has its own rules. If you are not yet registered to vote (or want to reregister because you moved or want to change your party affiliation, etc.), the deadline is May 24th – that is the date by which the Registrar of Voters must have RECEIVED your completed form. If you want to request a VBM ballot (the form is the back page of the sample ballot), it must be RECEIVED by May 30th. At this point in time, if you do either of these, it is possible that your name might not make it on to the voter rolls in time. That happens because as we close in on election day, the offices get very backed up. Not to worry! You can always request a “Provisional Ballot” which allows you to vote. It will be placed in a separate pink envelope and your registration status will be verified and your ballot tallied later.
First, the presidential election. As you know the Republican primary has effectively been won by Donald trump because everyone else has dropped out though you will see five names on the ballot if you are a registered Republican. That’s because the millions of ballots, with all their local variations, have to be printed weeks in advance. These five are part of the people who appear on the different parties’ ballots (for a total of 40 candiddates). There are no standout candidates among the minor parties this year. Even though the Democratic party ballots show seven candidates, really, it’s a race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, with the latter currently leading. You’ll recall some weeks ago I had recommended voting for Sanders, and explained why. I stand by that position.
There is only one measure on the ballot to vote for, Prop 50. It adds to the California constitution more details about the disciplinary actions the State Assembly and Senate can take against their own members who might violate rules or the law. It seems like a good idea to have clarity about what these bodies may do to people elected by the citizens of California. Vote yes.
Moving on to the Senate race where retiring Senator Diane Feinstein will be replaced, you will see 33 names! Here, the rules change because of California law. You can vote for any candidate from any party no matter what your party affiliation is, and the top two vote-getters will advance to the November General Election. This is a horrible arrangement, but that’s a topic for another time. Realistically, one of two people, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez or California Attorney General Kamala Harris will ultimately win. Both are Democrats and both are decent on Armenian issues to the best of my knowledge. I am torn. Do a little additional research and vote for one of these two. There are some respectable names on the Republican side, but they have no chance of winning, especially with a field of 12 people from their party splitting the vote. And that’s it for statewide races.
Next are the legislative races- U.S. House of Representative, State Senate, and State Assembly. The ANCA has issued its endorsements and I’m in agreement with all of them, but there are four I want to focus on. Katcho Achadjian is running for the U.S. House of Representatives 24th district seat. This is located in the vicinity of San Luis Obispo. He has a great story of arriving in the U.S., building up a business, then somewhat unexpectedly being encouraged to run for County Supervisor, and from there, moving on to the State Assembly. He is a really decent human being, sensible, and not extreme like some others in Congress are. There are not many Armenians in his district, so if you want to help, contribute funds here to his campaign and get any friends you have who live in the district to vote for him. Adrin Nazarian is running for reelection to his State Assembly 46th district seat. He is fortunately in a safe seat, has earned his constituents’ support, and can enjoy the votes of the significant number of Armenians living in the district. Be sure to vote for him if you live there.
Now we get to the heaviest Armenian populated districts. Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian is making his first run for the State Assembly 43th district seat. This covers Glendale, Burbank, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Hollywood, and other parts of Los Angeles. It is the most “Armenian” Assembly district in the whole state. However, there are six candidates running, one Republican and five Democrats. One of those Democrats is also a serious contender. There’s a good chance the Republican will make it into one of the top two positions and advance to the November election. Because this is a “Democratic” district, a Democrat will win in November. So it becomes very important to make sure Kassakhian also makes it to the November election. Everyone knows him in the district, since he’s a home-grown candidate who has served very well as Glendale’s elected City Clerk. But this is politics and the competition is vicious. Please, even if you are not a registered Democrat, vote for him.
Anthony Portantino is running for the State Senate 25th district seat which includes the area covered by the seat Kassakhian is running for, plus almost all the cities starting with Pasadena and going east to the LA-San Bernardino County line. Portantino has been very strong on Armenian issues. He served in the State Assembly for three terms and has the endorsement of an overwhelming majority of the elected leaders of the cities he will represent. He’s friendly, outgoing, and makes himself available to help. He is a pretty sure bet to advance to November, at which point he’s going to have a tougher time against the Republican who is likely to be vying with him. Again, this is the most “Armenian” State Senate district. Our voices should be heard.
Another challenging race is that of Ara Najarian who is running for the Los Angeles County Supervisor– District 5 seat. This is a race with a lot of very similarly qualified candidates who have specific areas of support. Najarian ranks in the top half, easily. But making it into the November election will be tough, despite his long and positive record as a Glendale Councilmember and Mayor, highly lauded service on local transportation agencies, and his long term presence in the district. Here’s the key. Because this supervisorial district covers virtually all of the same areas as Kassakhian’s and Portantino’s seats, all three candidates’ efforts will be multiplied. Every Armenian voting will be able to cast votes for more than one very pro-Armenian-issues candidate. This should be an incentive for all our community members to get out and vote. It’s very important.
Glendale’s Measure N proposes to repeal the local utility users tax. This is a very bad idea. It would reduce the city’s general fund revenues by almost 10%. It would impact services and the city council’s ability to wisely formulate a budget. Vote no on N if you live in Glendale.
If you don’t know where to go to vote, or want to register to vote, www.hyevotes.org or call the HyeVotes office at 818/806-8683. At the website go to “Find Your Polling Location” or “Register to Vote” to get it done.
As promised, here’s Nevada. We have growing Armenian communities there, so it’s time to get more and more politically plugged in. Fortunately, we have a serious contender for U.S. House of Representatives’ 3rd district. He is the son of the late local legend, Jerry Tarkanian, the basketball coach. In 2012, Tarkanian ran unsuccessfully for congress. This time, with more experience, even more recognition than his famous name had before, coupled with the field of six other Republicans running against him, should give him a great shot at winning the primary, which bodes well for a district whose retiring incumbent is of that same party. It’s unlikely many readers can vote for him, but your contributions here can fuel the campaign .
Please be sure to vote, regardless of whom you prefer. Your participation is important not just as a citizen, but also to help strengthen the Armenian community’s political presence.