LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region has endorsed incumbent Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis for her re-election.
“Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis has been an incredible friend and ally of the Armenian community, and we are proud to support her re-election,” remarked Chair of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “From participating in an ANCA-WR-led delegation to Armenia to supporting the passage of the California Turkey Divestment Bill, to her stalwart efforts to confront the denial of the Armenian Genocide — we are grateful for the Lieutenant Governor’s principled and dedicated support for Armenian-Americans and look forward to continuing to work with her to strengthen ties between the State of California, Armenia and Artsakh,” Hovsepian concluded.
Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis was first elected to executive office in 2018 with the endorsement of the ANCA-WR. As a Greek-American, Kounalakis has a deeply personal connection to the plight of the Armenian-American community and has been a stalwart friend of the community’s pursuit of justice.
In her first year of office, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis joined an ANCA-WR-led delegation to the Republic of Armenia to promote the strengthening of ties with the State of California. While in Armenia, the Lieutenant Governor met with Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, and visited the Dzidzernagaperd Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute to pay respect to over 3 million Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek innocent victims of the Genocide.
In her capacity as Governor Gavin Newsom’s representative for international affairs, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis – alongside long-time friend of the Armenian-American community Senator Anthony Portantino – spearheaded efforts to establish the California Trade and Services Desk in Armenia, inaugurated in 2021. The Trade Desk, which will work to strengthen economic and business ties between the State of California and Armenia, falls under the purview of the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor’s Office of Business Development.
Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis has also been a devoted advocate for holding the Republic of Turkey accountable for its enduring denial of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocides. From her numerous public statements commemorating and memorializing the genocide, her support for efforts spearheaded by the ANCA-WR to divest public funds from Turkish government-owned investments and securities, to her encouragement of the inclusion of Armenian genocide education in schools and the state ethnic studies curriculum – Kounalakis has been a devoted advocate for justice for the Armenian people.
Kounalakis also played a pivotal role in the cancellation of a California-Turkey trade summit that heavily featured prominent Armenian genocide deniers.
The event, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its U.S.-Turkish Business Council, was set to feature a keynote address from Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis and a presentation from the state’s economic development department before a panel discussion.
When it was revealed that the participants included prolific genocide deniers – who for years have been involved in obstructing genocide recognition efforts at the behest of the Turkish government – Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis promptly announced her withdrawal from the panel discussion, forcing a cancellation of the event. In a quote to the San Joaquin Valley Sun at the time, the Lieutenant Governor noted that she was “deeply disturbed to hear that the upcoming U.S.-Turkish Business Council meeting would feature panelists who are Armenian Genocide deniers,” and affirmed that “now and always, California stands strong on the side of truth and justice for this still-unpunished crime.”
In a testament to her commitment to standing up for the rights of the Armenian people, Kounalakis delivered a heartfelt address from the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School in 2020, where she condemned the heinous hate crime perpetrated against the school as well as Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Armenia’s Tavush region. During Azerbaijan’s subsequent invasion of Artsakh, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis was quick to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression and offer her support and solidarity with the Armenian community.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis met with the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia Dr. Arman Tatoyan during a delegation organized by the ANCA-WR. During the meeting, Dr. Tatoyan briefed the Lieutenant Governor and conveyed his appreciation for her steadfast commitment to standing up for the Armenian community both in the State of California and internationally amidst the disturbing rise of anti-Armenian hate crimes incited by the Government of Azerbaijan.
“It has been an honor to represent California’s diverse and vibrant Armenian community during my tenure as Lieutenant Governor, and I am incredibly grateful to receive the endorsement of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region for my re-election,” said Kounalakis. “The contributions Armenian-Americans have made to our state over generations is a testament to the promise California represents as a bastion of diversity and intercultural harmony.”
“I am proud of our state’s leadership in pursuing justice for the victims and survivors of the Armenian genocide – an issue close to my heart, as a Greek-American – as well as in holding Turkey and Azerbaijan accountable for their ongoing aggression against the Armenian people of Artsakh to this day. I look forward to continuing to work with my friends at the ANCA-WR to advocate for the Armenian-American community at the State Capitol, to strengthen ties between California and Armenia, and to build on our state’s record of standing up for the rights of the Armenian people, particularly during these trying times for the community.” Kounalakis added.
California is home to the largest Armenian diaspora community in the world, with up to a million residents of Armenian ancestry across the state. The Armenian-American community of California has made an indelible impact on the social, cultural, political, and economic fabric of the state.
With primary elections approaching on June 7th, Armenian-Americans have an important opportunity to ensure our community’s collective voice is heard, and are poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of the state.
The ANCA-WR will continue to announce its endorsements as it works tirelessly to ensure issues of significance to the Armenian-American community are addressed by candidates ahead of the upcoming elections.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.