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Iranian Americans in the November Elections

Source: Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Washington, D.C.

Six Iranian Americans were on the ballot on Election Day, November 4th, 2008. Farid Javandel, Ross Mirkarimi, Farah Douglas, and Ahsha Safai were running for city and county office, while Armineh Chelebian and Steve Tataii were candidates for state and federal office. Of the six candidates, Javandel and Mirkarimi were successful in their bids for reelection while the remaining four fell short in their bids for elective office.

Farid Javandel was reelected for a second term to the City Council of Albany, California. Javandel was one of six candidates vying for three open seats in the council. He received the second highest vote with a total of 18% of all the ballots cast. A first generation American of Iranian descent, Javandel is a registered Traffic Engineer and Planner and was the lead author of the Citywide Transportation Management Plan. He supports improved safety and mobility for children, seniors, and anyone who walks or bikes in Albany and the development of more parks and sports fields throughout the city.

Ross Mirkarimi was reelected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with an overwhelming 78% of the total votes. Mirkarimi represents district 5, which encompasses Haight-Ashbury and is one of the most diverse districts in San Francisco. He was born in Chicago to an Iranian father and a Russian-American mother. As a supervisor, Mirkarimi has sponsored over 40 pieces of legislation, including a measure that requires police foot patrols in high-crime neighborhoods. He has also been a vocal supporter of the Iranian American community in the Bay area. He introduced a resolution in an effort to ensure that Iranian Americans are not discriminated against in the City of San Francisco and took swift action in responding to the unjust detainment of Iranian visitors who had legally traveled to the U.S. for an annual alumni college reunion.

Farrah Douglas, a prominent Iranian American businesswoman and community activist, was a candidate for the City Council of Carlsbad, California. Douglas was one of six candidates vying for two seats in the council. She received the third highest vote total falling just 1200 votes out of the total 64,165 short of getting elected. Douglas campaigned on the platform of identifying new and diverse sources of income for Carlsbad while preserving, protecting, and enhancing its quality of life and natural resources. In 2006, Douglas was selected by the City Council to serve as a voting member on the Carlsbad Planning Commission. Her campaign was endorsed by Carlsbad Mayor Bud Lewis, Planning Commission Chairwoman Julie Baker as well as the Republican Party of San Diego County to name a few.

Ahsha Safai was a candidate for San Francisco Board of Supervisors - District 11. Safai was seeking to replace District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, whose term expires in January of 2009. He was one of eight declared candidates in the race. Safai came in second receiving 25% of the vote (810 votes short of winning the election). Safai served as the Deputy Director for the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Community Development and in the San Francisco Department of Public Works. His many accomplishments include spearheading a project to build a community youth center, championing legislation to help immigrant families remain in public housing, and directing over $25 million in federal grants towards low-to moderate-income communities and overall neighborhood revitalization. His campaign had amassed an impressive list of endorsements, including Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Armineh Chelebian, a successful accountant with deep roots in San Fernando Valley's cultural and business communities, was the Republican nominee for California's 40th State Assembly District. Chelebian was seeking the seat currently occupied by Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D) who is being termed out in 2008. She was considered the underdog candidate in a Democratic District and finished a distant second with 26.5% of the vote compared to 58% for the Democratic nominee. Third party libertarian candidate mustered 14% of the vote. Chelebian's campaign ran on a platform which included education reform and bringing accountability to the budget process in the State Capitol. A proponent of Charter schools, she proposed to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District into smaller, more manageable school districts. Former Governor George Deukmejian, State Senator George Runner, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca endorsed Chelebian's campaign. SteveTataii was the Republican nominee for the 1st Congressional District of Hawaii. Tataii was unopposed in this year's Republican primary and faced incumbent Democrat Rep. Neil Abercrombie. This marked Tataii's third run for Congress. He finished a distant second receiving only 19% of the vote. Tataii was born in East Kurdistan and claims Kurdish ethnicity. He has lived in Honolulu since 1976. Tataii is the author of three books on the Iraq war, and he speaks six languages. He's an independent conflict resolution consultant who previously was a teacher.

Two other Iranian Americans ran unsuccessfull campaign in primaries earlier this year. Susan Amini, a dedicated lawyer who has spent years helping the disadvantaged, was a candidate for the position of Superior Court Position 1 in King County (Seattle), Washington State. Amini was seeking the court seat vacated by Judge Charles Mertel. Although Amini finished third in Washington's August primary, her candidacy garnered much attention with endorsements from the Seatle Post and Seatle Times newspapers. Amini was rated "Well Qualified" for the position of Superior Court Judge by the King County Bar Association and rated "Exceptionally Well-Qualified" by the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington.

Darius Shahinfar lost his bid to become the Democratic nominee in the September 9th primary to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Representative Mike McNulty in the 21st Congressional District of New York. Although his bid to become the first American of Iranian heritage to serve in the U.S. Congress fell short, Shahinfar's campaign did receive a tremendous amount of financial and grass roots support from the Iranian American community and beyond, prompting expectations of a promising future in New York State politics. Former New York State Assemblyman Paul Tonko outdistanced four other challengers to grab the Democratic nomination. Tonko picked up 39% of the 37,000 votes cast in the 21st Congressional District. Tracey Brooks, a former aide to Senator Hillary Clinton, finished second with 30% of the vote, while Shahinfar received 10% support. Keeping pace with his competitors, Shahinfar raised over $320,000 for his campaign. A significant portion, approximately 200,000, came from the Iranian American community.

... Payvand News - 11/09/08 ... --

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