BOCA RATON, FL – Florida Armenians is pleased to announce that our endorsed candidates from the 2021 election cycle won their elections.
In the City of Miami Beach, Commissioner Mark Samuelian won his re-election without opposition. Samuelian is the only Armenian American elected government official in the State of Florida and was the first Armenian to win an election in Miami-Dade County when he was elected to the City Commission in 2019 with Florida Armenians endorsement. In 2020, the City of Miami beach passed a resolution introduced by Commissioner Samuelian officially recognizing the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
Florida Armenians endorsed Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber in 2021, as we did in 2019, and he won his contested election with 62% of the vote, securing a third, two-year term.
2022 Special & Municipal Elections
Following the death of Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) on April 6, 2021, a special election to fill the vacant Florida Congressional District 20 seat was held on January 11, 2022. Hastings was a founding member of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, a group of Members of Congress interested in Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority dictatorship neighboring the Republic of Armenia in the South Caucasus that has enlisted Afghan and Syrian/ISIS terrorist mercenaries to kill Christian Armenians in wars it launched against Armenia in 1994 and 2020, respectively. Hastings, who broke with his party’s leadership in siding with the genocidal Azerbaijani and Turkish regimes, repeatedly opposed U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, despite Armenian Americans’ deep relationships with African Americans and relatable struggles as a minority community often subject to similar discrimination and prejudice.
The deep blue FL-20 Congressional seat saw eleven Democrats run to replace Hastings in the Democrat primary election held on November 2, 2021. Broward County lawyer and health care executive Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick defeated the Hastings-endorsed candidate, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holeness, by five votes.
Florida Armenians did not offer an endorsement in the FL-20 special election, but looks forward to working with Congresswoman Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), the first Haitian American Representative from Florida, in the months and years ahead.
The FL-20 Congressional district seat vacancy set off a domino effect as many local elected officials vied for the open seat. Florida is one of five states with a “resign-to-run” law, which prohibits a current office holder from running for a different seat without first resigning the seat they hold, should the terms of the current office held overlap with the office sought.
In addition to Commissioner Holeness, Florida State Reps. Omari Hardy (D-FL-88) and Bobby DuBose (D-FL-94) resigned their West Palm Beach-based and Ft. Lauderdale-based State House seats, respectively, in order to run for Congress in the vacant FL-20. Florida State Senator Perry Thurston (D-FL-33) also resigned his northwest Ft. Lauderdale-based State Senate seat in order to seek the vacant FL-20 Congressional seat.
A special election for the FL-33 State Senate, FL-88 and FL-94 State House seats has been scheduled take place on March 8, 2022, which is when Palm Beach County & Broward County will hold municipal elections.
Florida Armenians will release our slate of endorsed 2022 South Florida special election and municipal candidates in the coming days as early voting begins in Palm Beach County on February 12th.
Nineteen (19) Palm Beach County municipalities will hold elections on March 8, 2022, they are: Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Haverhill, Highland Beach, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Jupiter Inlet Colony, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Park, Lake Worth Beach, Lantana, Loxahatchee Groves, North Palm Beach, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, Wellington, and West Palm Beach.
Six (6) Broward County municipalities will hold elections on March 8, 2022, there are: Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Lazy Lake, Lighthouse Point, Pembroke Pines, and Sea Ranch Lakes.
Municipal elections in Florida are non-partisan.
The Armenian Assembly of America is pleased to invite you to its 2021 Fall Advocacy Week that will take place virtually during the week of September 27, 2021. The 2021 Fall Advocacy Week will address topics covering congressional priorities, human rights issues, and Christians in peril, with a special focus on the one-year anniversary of the 44-Day War in Artsakh.
One Year After the War in Artsakh: Atrocities and Cultural Desecration
Monday, September 27, 2021
11:00 am – Noon EDT
Christians in Peril
Monday, September 27, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
Working to Make Artsakh Safe & Green
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
11:00 am – Noon EDT
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Noon – 1:00 pm EDT
Sign Up for Virtual Meetings with Members of Congress
By Harut Sassounian
After the United States avoided the issue for 40 years, ever since President Ronald Reagan mentioned the Armenian Genocide in a Presidential Proclamation, President Joe Biden used the term Armenian Genocide on Saturday, despite the gag rule imposed on the U.S. government by the denialist rulers of the Republic of Turkey. For good measure, President Biden used the word genocide not once, but twice, in his “Statement on Armenian Remembrance Day.”
As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. But, since Armenian-Americans were deceived so many times by previous presidents who had not kept their campaign promises, they were cautiously optimistic about Biden’s commitment.
Even though the United States had repeatedly recognized the Armenian Genocide beginning in 1951 when the U.S. government submitted an official document to the World Court; the U.S. House of Representatives adopted three resolutions in 1975, 1984 and 2019; the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution in 2019; and President Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 1981, President Biden’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide in 2021 is a major step forward with several positive consequences:
- Because the mass murder of 1.5 million people is an emotional issue, descendants of Armenian Genocide victims felt a deep sense of satisfaction that the genocide suffered by their ancestors is formally and correctly acknowledged by the President of the United States.
- This most recent and authoritative acknowledgement by the U.S. President will enable courts to go forward with lawsuits making claims by Armenians on genocide era-demands from the government of Turkey. In the past, such lawsuits were dismissed by federal judges who claimed (wrongly) that since the U.S. government had not acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, individual states like California could not pass laws allowing these lawsuits to proceed. Nevertheless, if the courts decide that President Biden’s statement on the Armenian Genocide is not sufficient to allow the filing of such lawsuits, then Armenian-Americans would be obliged to push for the adoption of a proposed law, not a commemorative resolution, which needs to be adopted by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President into law. That should be the final word on fulfilling the legal requirements for filing lawsuits against Turkey.
- As a global superpower, pronouncements by the U.S. President have a major effect on other countries – particularly Great Britain, Australia and Israel. Therefore, it is expected that several countries would follow suit in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
- President Biden’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide comes at a particularly sensitive time for Armenians worldwide following the disastrous defeat in last fall’s Artsakh War at the hands of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Islamic jihadist mercenaries. President Biden’s April 24 statement will boost the spirits of Armenians and could create an atmosphere of goodwill by world powers toward the just resolution of Artsakh’s status and the protection of its population.
- The struggle for genocide recognition is also a political battle between the country that perpetrated the mass crime and the descendants of the victims. The government of Turkey, as in past years, did everything in its power to prevent the U.S. from acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. Turkey paid millions of dollars to American lobbying organizations to deny the Genocide, pressured and threatened the United States with dire consequences should it acknowledge the Genocide. Nevertheless, Turkey suffered a devastating political blow. Turkey’s arrogant president, thinking that no country can go against his wishes, was sternly put in his place by the President of the United States. I am sure President Erdogan endured a sleepless night after President Biden called him on April 23, advising him of his decision to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Hopefully, the humiliated Erdogan understood that the world does not rotate around Turkey.
Let us now see what the Turkish government may do in retaliation. Will it temporarily recall its Ambassador from Washington, threaten to cut off commercial ties or block the U.S. government from using the Incirlik airbase in Turkey? I hope Erdogan will take all of these steps and many more. With such actions, Turkey will exacerbate U.S.-Turkish relations, provide worldwide publicity to the Armenian Genocide and drive its failing economy into bankruptcy. This could lead to internal turmoil and the eventual removal of Erdogan from the presidency during the next election, if not sooner. Interestingly, in a lengthy televised speech to the Turkish nation late at night on April 26, besides his usual lies about the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan dared not announce any actions against the US in retaliation to Biden’s April 24 statement. Thus, Erdogan displayed his utter humiliation and impotence.
As usual, not having been able to bully the U.S. into abandoning its plans to recognize the Genocide, Turkish leaders are now resorting to their usual tricks by stating that the US recognition does not mean anything. If it meant nothing, why did Turkey spend millions of dollars on lobbyists for several decades and pressure the U.S. government, threatening dire consequences?
Rather than continuing the lies and denials for over a century, it would be much better for Turkey to simply acknowledge the crimes of its predecessors, ask for forgiveness and make amends for the horrendous damages caused to the Armenian people. Turkey would do well to follow the example of Germany after the Holocaust. Germany apologized for Hitler’s mass crimes, erected memorials for the Holocaust victims and paid billions of dollars in reparations. That’s what civilized nations do when their leaders commit a grave crime.
In the meantime, Armenians around the world should pursue their demands through legal channels by filing multiple lawsuits against Turkey in various country courts and the European Court of Human Rights, seeking restitution for the damages caused by the Genocide. The government of Armenia, on the other hand, should take Turkey to the International Court of Justice (World Court), where only governments have the standing to file lawsuits.
Finally, this is the appropriate moment to remember and acknowledge a great friend of Armenians, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, whose diplomatic career was cut short in 2006 after he told the truth about the Armenian Genocide during a visit to California. It would be only proper for the Biden administration to appoint Evans as the next US Ambassador to Armenia. This is the least the US government could do, after the President issues an official apology to him.
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, California. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.