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Florida Elected Officials Respond to White House Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Earlier today, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to properly recognize the World War I era mass killings of Armenians and other Christians by the Ottoman Turkish Empire as genocide.

“Today is #ArmenianGenocide Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915 by the Ottomans, & today @POTUS has made history by becoming the first President to recognize it. This is a major step toward Armenians getting the justice they deserve,” Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) said on Twitter. Earlier this week, Frankel was one of three Florida Representatives to sign a letter to President Biden urging him to recognize the Armenian Genocide on April 24th.

“It has been more than 100 years since the atrocities committed against innocent Armenians and other ethnic and religious minorities at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign from 1915-1923 killed 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children, as well as Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs, through a series of executions and death marches,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who serves as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. “I whole-heartedly welcome today’s historic announcement from President Biden formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide. I have been a major supporter of recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s atrocious acts as genocide, co-authoring the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution passed by the House of Representatives two years ago. We must acknowledge the atrocities of the past so that we might hopefully prevent them in the future. Our darkest moments as a human race have come during times when those who knew better stood silently, making excuses for passivity and allowing injustice and persecution to reign. Today at 2:30 p.m. I spoke with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia George Kent who confirmed the Administration’s announcement today acknowledging the pain of history to ensure future atrocities do not happen,” Bilirakis said on Saturday.

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), an active member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, issued a statement on Twitter, saying “I commend @POTUS Biden for officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Yet over a century later some still minimize the Ottoman Empire’s systematic execution of Armenians. We must honor the victims & survivors, & we must keep its memory alive to prevent history from repeating.”

“President Joe Biden’s deceptively simple action goes beyond what any previous American president has ever been willing to do. The evidence, however, is clear the Turks engaged in a years-long ethnic cleansing campaign that included forced death marches and mass starvation. Recognizing this fact will, hopefully, bring an element of closure to this chapter of history for families impacted by these atrocities,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth (D-FL) told FLArmenians.com.

Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer told FLArmenians.com, “The White House’s recognition today of the Armenian Genocide is an important step to honor the memory of the many who were killed. To prevent future tragedies, we must never forget those that occurred,” Mayor Singer said. Boca Raton, FL is the second largest city in Palm Beach County and is home to St. David Armenian Church, the first Armenian Church built in Florida and consecrated in 1989.

Responding to the news, Mark Samuelian, Miami Beach City Commissioner told FLArmenians.com, “Having recently visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, President Biden’s historic announcement today delivers profound meaning.” Elected in 2017, Samuelian is the first Armenian American elected official in Miami-Dade County, FL.

*This post was updated on Thursday, April 29, 2021 to reflect the new statements. FLArmenians.com will continue to update this post with new statements from Florida elected officials.

March 2021 Palm Beach County Municipal Elections Endorsements

Florida Armenians is proud to endorse the following candidates that are running in the upcoming March 9, 2021 municipal elections in Palm Beach County. Please be advised that municipal elections are for residents within the city limits. If you don’t know if you are eligible to vote in these elections please check your voter registration by visiting the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office or click here to look up your voter registration and or update your address and information.

Boca Raton

Seat C: Constance Scott

Constance Scott previously served two terms on the Boca Raton City Council (2009-2015). She is endorsed by the Palm Beach Post, Business Leaders United PAC, International Association of Firefighters Local 1560, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #35, The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, Broward-Palm Beaches-St. Lucie Realtors, as well as Palm Beach County School Board Chair Frank Barbieri, Jr.

Seat D: Brian Stenberg

Brian Stenberg is endorsed by Business Leaders United PAC, and the Broward-Palm Beaches-St. Lucie Realtors.

Delray Beach

Mayor: Tracy Caruso

Tracy Caruso is endorsed by the Palm Beach County Economic Council, PBC Police Benevolent Association, International Association of Firefighters Local 1842, SEUI-FPSU, the Set Neighborhood Alliance, as well as PBC Commissioners Robert Weinroth, Maria Marino, and State Reps. Joe Casello and Mike Caruso, among others.

Sear 1: Adam Frankel

Adam Frankel is running for re-election and is endorsed by the Palm Beach County Economic Council, PBC Police Benevolent Association, International Association of Firefighters Local 1842, the Set Neighborhood Alliance, The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, SEIU-FL, as well as Congressman Ted Deutch, State Senator Lori Berman, and PBC Commissioners Robert Weinroth, Mack Bernard, and Maria Sachs.

Seat 3: Ryan Boylston

Ryan Boylston is running for re-election and is endorsed by the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach County Economic Council, PBC Police Benevolent Association, International Association of Firefighters Local 1842, Broward-Palm Beaches-St. Lucie Realtors, The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, SEIU-FL, and seven former Mayors of Delray Beach.

Palm Beach

Edward “Ted Cooney

Ted Cooney is endorsed by the entire Palm Beach Town Council, namely outgoing Mayor Gail Coniglio, Mayor-Elect Dani Moore, Town Council President Maggie Zeidman, Town Council members Bobbie Lindsay and Lew Crampton, as well as the PBC Human Rights Council Voters Alliance

Palm Beach Gardens

Group 2: Marcie Tinsley

Marcie Tinsley is endorsed by BIZPAC, Broward-Palm Beach-St. Lucie Realtors. The Economic Council of PBC. Equality Florida Action PAC. PBC Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, PBC Police Benevolent Association, Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce PAC, Professional Firefighters / Paramedics of Palm Beach County, Local 2928, I.A.F.F., Inc., and SEIU-FL.

West Palm Beach

District 2: Shalonda Warren

Shalonda Warren is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police WPB Lodge 2, Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches Leadership PAC, PBC Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, SEIU Florida, as well as WPB Mayor Keith James, and WPB City Commissioners Christina Lambert and Christy Fox, among others.

District 4: Joe Peduzzi

Joe Peduzzi is currently serving on the West Palm Beach City Commission and deserves re-election. He is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police WPB Lodge 2, Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches Leadership PAC, PBC Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, SEUI-Florida, AFL-CIO Florida, as well as WPB Mayor Keith James, and WPB City Commissioners Christina Lambert, Kelly Shaof, Christy Fox, and Cory Neering, among others.

FLArmenians 2020 Election Endorsements

FLArmenians.com is pleased to announce our 2020 election endorsements in Florida.

PRESIDENT:

  • Joe Biden & Kamala Harris (D)

Whether viewing the President’s record and tenure in office solely through an American or Armenian American lens, one would arrive at the same conclusion: he does not deserve reelection. From an Armenian American standpoint, Donald Trump never promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide so when he used practically the same exact language as President Obama in his annual April 24th statement there was little expectation that Trump would be any different than Obama.

However, what is most troubling to Armenian Americans at this point in time is how the Trump Administration broke over two decades of precedent when he increased military aid to Azerbaijan over that of Armenia. For nearly 20 years, the Armenian American community has been successful in ensuring that Congress, and to some extent the President, maintain parity when it comes to U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, the Trump Administration has “substantially ramped up security assistance to Azerbaijan, amounting to more than $100 million in fiscal years (FY) 2018-19,” according to an analysis by Emil Sanamyan of University of Southern California. “By comparison U.S. security aid to Azerbaijan in FY 2016-17 did not exceed $3 million a year,” he writes.

So far President Trump has resisted efforts to sanction Azerbaijan and withhold U.S. military aid to that country.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a substantial record of pro-Armenian positions from his early days to today. First and foremost, students of history will recall that in 1989, Joe Biden, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brought forward S. J. Res. 212, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Biden, as Chairman and as an original cosponsor of the bill, brought the bill forward and held a successful markup, sending the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. What is significant here is that Senator Biden was under tremendous pressure not to bring the bill forward, but he did so anyway because he knew it was the right thing to do. Furthermore, in 1989 Armenian American advocacy was in its infancy. Modern day genocide resolutions are “sense of the House” resolutions, that have no legal binding and are not signed by the President. Back in 1989, the Armenian Genocide resolution was introduced as a “joint resolution” requiring passage in both chambers and the signature of the President. Then-Senator Joe Biden, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, presided over the first time in the history of the U.S. Senate where an Armenian Genocide resolution was discussed and adopted.

Fast forward to Vice President Joe Biden, who seems to have taken a lot of blame for Obama’s broken campaign promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide. While that stain on Obama’s presidency remains indefinitely, it was at the end of the day President Obama’s decision, not Vice President Biden’s. Nobody knows for sure who said what in the Oval Office when Obama, Biden, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and others were in the room. We all know the outcome but to lay that at Biden’s feet now reflects a feeble minded understanding of American politics.

Vice President Joe Biden’s present-day positions are noteworthy. He was unequivocal on his April 24, 2020 statement on the Armenian Genocide, where he used the Armenian words Medz Yeghern and was unafraid to use the English equivalent: Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, Biden released two statements on the current Azerbaijan and Turkish war crimes launched against Artsakh (formerly Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia. The first was on October 13, following the first ceasefire agreement violation by Azerbaijan. The second came on October 28 where Biden called for enforcing sanctions on Azerbaijan under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which has been waived by every President since the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. In the October 28 statement, Biden also acknowledged Turkey smuggling Syrian mercenaries into the conflict.

President Trump and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien have been asked repeatedly since Azerbaijan first launched their attack on Artsakh on September 27th to enforce the sanctions regime on Azerbaijan currently U.S. law. O’Brien even recently admitted that Azerbaijan was the party uninterested in peace. Yet, the Trump Administration refuses to comment on enforcing sanctions on Azerbaijan.

The choice for President, from an American and especially through the Armenian American lens, cannot be any more clear. A vote for Trump is a vote for Aliyev and Erdogan, who will continue to get away with their crimes against humanity so long as Donald Trump is President.

As we said in an interview with The Hill newspaper, “Preserving the Armenian state is going to be paramount and right now, I think you can make the case very easily that the Armenian homeland is being threatened with another genocide. I think this is going to be the most important issue for Armenian Americans going into November.”

PALM BEACH COUNTY

CONGRESS

  • FL-18: No Endorsement
  • FL-20: Gregg Musslewhite (R-FL)
  • FL-21 : Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL)
  • FL-22: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)*

STATE SENATE

  • SD-25: Gayle Harrell (R)
  • SD-29: Brian Norton (R)
  • SD-30: Bobby Powell (D)
  • SD-31: Lori Berman (D)

STATE HOUSE

  • HD-81: Kelly Skidmore (D)
  • HD-82: Mary Lynn Magar (R)
  • HD-85: Rick Roth (R)
  • HD-86: Matt Whilhite (D)
  • HD-87: David Silvers (D)
  • HD-88: Omari Hardy (D)
  • HD-89: Mike Caruso (R)
  • HD-90: Joe Casello (D)
  • HD-91: Emily Slosberg (D)

PALM BEACH BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

  • District 1: Maria Marino (R)
  • District 3: David Kerner (D)
  • District 5: David Shiner (R)
  • District 7: Mack Bernard (D)

SHERIFF & TAX COLLECTOR

  • Ric Bradshaw (D)
  • Anne Gannon (D)

CLERK & COMPTROLLER

  • Joseph Abruzzo

PALM BEACH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE GROUP 30 (NON-PARTISAN)

  • Adam Myron

PORT OF PALM BEACH

  • Group 1: Wayne Richards
  • Group 2: Katherine Waldron
  • Group 3: Jean Enright

SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION

  • Group 2: Ann Marie Sorrell
  • Group 3: Chad Alvarez
  • Group 4: Rob Long

BROWARD COUNTY

CONGRESS

  • FL-23: Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL)
  • FL-24: Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

STATE SENATE

  • SD-32: Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL)
  • SD-33: Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr. (D-FL)
  • SD-34: Sen. Gary Farmer, Jr. (D-FL)

STATE HOUSE

  • HD-92: Patricia Hawkins-Williams (D-FL)
  • HD-93: Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-FL)
  • HD-94: Rep. Bobby DuBose (D-FL)
  • HD-95: Rep. Anika Tene Omphroy (D-FL)
  • HD-96: Christine Hunschofsky (D)
  • HD-97: Rep. Dan Daley (D-FL)
  • HD-98: Rep. Michael Gottlieb (D-FL)
  • HD-99: Rep. Evan Jenne (D-FL)
  • HD-100: Joe Geller (D)
  • HD-101: Rep. Marie Woodson (D-FL)

COUNTY COMMISSION

  • District 1: Nan Rich (D-FL)
  • District 3: Michael Udine (D-FL)
  • District 5: Steven Geller (D-FL)
  • District 7: Tim Ryan (D-FL)
  • District 9: Dale Holness (D-FL)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

CONGRESS

  • FL-25: Rep. Mario Diaz-Bolart (R-FL)
  • FL-26: Carlos Gimenez (R)
  • FL-27: Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL)

STATE SENATE

  • SD-35: Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-FL)
  • SD-37: Sen. Jose Javier Fernandez (R-FL)
  • SD-39: Javier Fernandez (D)

STATE HOUSE

  • HD-102: Felicia Simone-Robinson (D)
  • HD-103: Rep. Cindy Polo (D-FL)
  • HD-104: Robin Bartleman (D)
  • HD-105: Maureen Porras (D)
  • HD-108: Rep. Dotie Joseph (D-FL)
  • HD-110: Annette Collazo (D)
  • HD-111: Rep. Bryan Avila (R-FL)
  • HD-112: Rep. Nicholas Duran (D-FL)
  • HD-113: Demi Busatta Cabrera (D)
  • HD-115: Rep. Vance Aloupis (R-FL)
  • HD-116: Rep. Daniel Perez (R-FL)
  • HD-118: Rickey Junquera (D)
  • HD-119: Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R)
  • HD-120: Rep. James Mooney (R-FL)

COUNTY COMMISSION

  • Mayor: Esteban “Steve” Bovo
  • District 1: Oliver Gilbert
  • District 3: Keon Hardemon
  • District 5: Eileen Higgins
  • District 7: Raquel Regalado
  • District 9: Kionne McGhee
  • District 11: Joe Martinez
  • District 13: Rene Garcia

OTHER CONGRESSIONAL RACES

CONGRESS

  • FL-01: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
  • FL-02: Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
  • FL-03: Kat Cammack (R)
  • FL-04: Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL)
  • FL-05: Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL)
  • FL-06: Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL)
  • FL-07: Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
  • FL-08: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
  • FL-09: Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
  • FL-10: Rep. Val Demings (D-FL)
  • FL-11: Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)
  • FL-12: Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)**
  • FL-13: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL)*
  • FL-14: Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL)
  • FL-15: Scott Franklin (R)
  • FL-16: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
  • FL-17: Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL)
  • FL-19: Byron Donalds (R)

*Member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues

**Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues