By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor
Florida Armenians is pleased to announce that 38 out of 39 candidates endorsed by Florida Armenians have won election to various offices across the State of Florida. The 97% success rate of Florida Armenians endorsed candidates illustrates the power and effectiveness of the Armenian American community in Florida at the federal, state, and local level.
All thirteen Florida Armenians endorsed candidates for United States Congress were elected, including Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo who defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Garcia in FL-26, which covers southwest Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County.
In the state legislature, all four Florida Armenians endorsed senate candidates won election. In the state house, fifteen out of sixteen Florida Armenians endorsed candidates won election, including HD-67 Republican Chris Latvala who easily defeated Democrat Christopher Shepard in the open-seat contest. Christ Latvala is the son of State Senator Jack Latvala (R-Pinellas), who introduced and managed the successful passage of the first Armenian Genocide resolution in the Florida State Senate in 2013. The only loss of all Florida Armenians endorsed candidates in the 2014 election cycle occurred next door to Chris Latvala, in HD-68, where Bill Young lost his challenge to Democratic incumbent Dwight Dudley (D-Pinellas). Bill Young is the son of the late C.W. Bill Young III (R-FL), who represented Florida in the United State Congress from 1971-2013.
At the state executive level, all three Florida Armenians endorsed candidates coasted to victory. Although Florida Armenians withheld our endorsement in the hotly-contested Florida Governor race, we would like to congratulate Governor Rick Scott on his reelection victory. We look forward to working with him and his administration as we approach the Armenian Genocide centennial in April 24, 2015.
Florida Armenians also endorsed Garo Artinian, the sole Armenian American on the ballot in Florida. He won an uncontested race and is now the North Palm Beach County Improvement District Seat 2 Board Member-elect.
Florida Armenians would like to congratulate all of our endorsees across the Sunshine State on their election victory.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis Pledges to Bring Armenia Closer to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel as New Armenian Caucus Vice Chair
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor
Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) has been named Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. In addition to playing an active role in the Armenian Caucus, notably efforts to secure Turkey’s return of confiscated Christian Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian religious property and U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Bilirakis also serves as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and as Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Caucus, among others.
“I look forward to working with like-minded House colleagues in the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues to continue and grow the Caucus’ focus on issues of concern to the Armenian American community,” Congressman Bilirakis told FLArmenians.com. “I have long admired the tenacity and strong will of the Armenian people who have thrived despite enduring a history of suffering under repressive regimes. I am especially gratified to be a part of the Caucus as we come upon the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – a horrific massacre of over 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women, and children. I intend to work diligently so that the Caucus can pass a resolution that expresses a sense of Congress that is meaningful and effective.
“Finally, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I am eager to help incorporate Armenia into the broader discussion of energy and security issues with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. The Caucus has a long history of bi-partisan cooperation which I look forward to continuing as we take on new challenges in the years ahead.”
Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He was first elected to Congress on November 7, 2006, and is currently serving his fourth term in the United States House of Representatives.
As a young boy, Gus learned the importance of public service from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented Florida’s Ninth Congressional District from 1983 to 2006. The elder Bilirakis also instilled in his son a pride in the family’s Greek heritage, which Gus proudly carries into his career today.
Bilirakis sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the Vice Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.