Advertisement

Ron Kaye: Brains, talent, too much ambition

May 18, 2013
  • Columnist Ron Kaye
Columnist Ron Kaye

In the costliest and most vicious City Council race of the Los Angeles election season, the battle for Hollywood has shattered beliefs about Armenian solidarity, with Paul Krekorian's role seen as causing deep rifts in the community.

Little Armenia in East Hollywood is a key battleground area where Krekorian's endorsement of labor union darling John Choi and the heavy-handed tactics that are being employed against Mitch O'Farrell, a popular council staffer, have enraged many local community leaders.

They claim Choi, a new resident of the district, with Krekorian's help, hired Armenian campaign workers from Glendale to staff phone banks and walk door-to-door to confuse thousands of newly registered voters who are mostly immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

"Choi workers are telling voters they're calling from my office and going to people's homes and using my name and saying that I'm for Choi and telling old people that they'll lose their low-income housing and benefits," said Sam Kbushyan, son of a prominent Little Armenia restaurateur and the third-place finisher in a primary field of 12 who more than doubled Armenian voter registration during his campaign.

Advertisement

Choi, for his part, has repeatedly denied the accusations, claiming its actually O'Farrell's workers misrepresenting themselves.

Kbushyan's harsh words are repeated over and over by Little Armenian community leaders who are working hard to elect O'Farrell, a veteran staffer in mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti's council office who is highly regarded in the neighborhoods as responsive to their concerns.

Between them, Choi and O'Farrell got barely a third of the votes in the March primary. They have raised close to $800,000 combined, gotten $436,000 in public matching funds, and received, at last report, nearly $800,000 in independent expenditures, with Choi having better than a 2-1 money advantage.

"They're calling Paul a traitor — it's so unfair of them to ignore all that he has done for the Armenian community as a private citizen, a Burbank school board member, a state Assemblyman and now a councilman," said Krekorian spokesman Jeremy Oberstein.

He suggested Kbushyan and others prominent in Little Armenia groups are not authentic community leaders and pointed to Krekorian's original statement of why he was backing a candidate in the 13th District, especially one perceived as an outsider being promoted with union money to consolidate power on the council.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles
|
|
|