November 15, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ardashes Kassakhian
tel: (818) 500-1918

ANCA-WR HAILS ELECTION OF ARMENIAN AMERICAN CANDIDATES AS A “HISTORIC AND MONUMENTAL ACHEIVEMENT”

Los Angeles, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region issued a statement today praising the election of four Armenian-Americans to the California State Legislature during the November 2002 Mid-Term Elections. Two freshman Republicans, Steve Samuelian and Greg Aghazarian were elected to the California State Legislature by overwhelming margins in Central California while Democrat Assemblymember Joe Simitian from Palo Alto and Republican State Senator Chuck Poochigian from Fresno were both reelected to the State Legislature.

The current number of Armenian-Americans serving in the State Legislature of the nation’s most populous state and the fifth largest economy in the world is the greatest it has ever been. Most significant about the election results of the November 5 elections was the race in California’s 29th State Assembly district where long-time ANC activist Steve Samuelian was elected to replace retiring Assemblymember Mike Briggs (R-Fresno). Assemblymember-elect Samuelian has been active within the Fresno Armenian community since his childhood. Prior to running for office, Mr. Samuelian served as the district director for Congressman George Radanovich (R-CA), a staunch supporter of Armenian-American issues in Congress. Mr. Samuelian’s election victory came after a long, hard fought primary and a general election race where Democrats had concentrated their efforts to discourage Republican voter turnout. Armenian-Americans however voted by the thousands ensuring that Samuelian handily beat his Democrat opponent.

“Assemblymember-elect Samuelian sets a great example for Armenian-Americans who are active within the political process and aspire to be leaders at the State level and beyond,” commented Steven J. Dadaian, Chairman of the ANCA-WR. “I’m confident that he’ll represent his constituency with honor and dignity and play an important role in the efforts to promote and fight for the Armenian Cause.”

Joining Mr. Samuelian in the Assembly will be another Republican, Greg Aghazarian representing the 26th Assembly District which encompasses San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. Assemblymember-elect Aghazarian, a farmer and businessman, is the son of Armenian immigrants and was defended his Armenian heritage during a campaign debate when his opponent questioned his patriotism.

The election of Assemblymembers-elect Samuelian and Aghazarian bring the total number of Armenian-Americans in the California State Legislature to the highest ever in the history of the State. Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) and Senator Chuck Poochigian are joined by one Democrat and two Republicans in the State Assembly.

“This is a historic and monumental moment that all Armenian-Americans across the nation should be proud of,” stated Ardashes Kassakhian, Director of Government Relations for the ANCA-WR. “There are numerous issues which affect the Armenian-American community in California and having such strong advocates in the legislature ensures that our concerns will not be ignored.”

“We are very proud of our current Armenian-American elected representatives – Senators Speier and Poochigian and Assemblymember Joe Simitian – and to have two freshmen Assemblymembers win seats in California’s legislature is an added bonus,” added Kassakhian.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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