Member of Glendale City Council: “We can carry out different programs by cooperating with Armenia”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent talked about the mission, as well as the past and future programs and activities of Glendale City Council with member of Glendale City Council Vartan Gharpetian.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gharpetian, what had you achieved before becoming a member of Glendale City Council?

Vartan Gharpetian: I became a member of Glendale City Council by struggling and working hard every day. My family and I have always been active in the community. Since 2003, I have been a member of different commissions of Glendale City Council, like the Planning Commission, which decides on and allows the construction of any structure or building in Glendale. I have also served as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, which has the right to prohibit the destruction and modification of historic buildings.

I must also add that members of the city council are elected once every four years. I have run in the elections three times before being elected a member of Glendale City Council.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gharpetian, let’s talk about the programs and projects of Glendale City Council. You have a main strategy for those programs and projects.

The main strategy is to make every effort to improve the quality of life of everyone. Of course, the Armenians of Glendale also benefit from all that.

When I was elected a member of Glendale City Council, the first issue that I raised was the issue of apartment rents for senior citizens. The monthly rents rose, and they can’t afford it. We pursued the solution of the problem and are now building 80 apartments that will be provided to them at more affordable prices.

We are building soccer fields for the youth in parks and schoolyards and have provided nearly $10,000,000 dollars for the construction of soccer fields alone. We are building parks for their leisure. The construction of parking lots was also a major issue. We will be building three suitable parking lots so that people don’t face any problems with parking.

Hayern Aysor: The establishment of an Armenian American Museum in Glendale is a major achievement for the Armenian community. Governor of California Jerry Brown has appropriated $1 million dollars from the 2016-17 Budget of California for construction of the museum. How is the construction going?

V. G.: Yes, it is going to be a major and historic event for the Armenian community of Glendale.

The building of the Armenian American Museum will house galleries, cultural and educational centers, a small theater and classrooms.

The 1.7 hectare museum will be surrounded by a beautiful garden, and a monument to the canonized martyrs of the Armenian Genocide will be erected next to Glendale Civic Auditorium and Glendale Community College.

The decision on construction of the museum was adopted based on the agreement that was signed between members of Glendale City Council and the Armenian Genocide Centennial Western USA Regional Committee on November 4, 2014.

I must also state that Glendale City Council has established a special commission in charge of regulating the current works, and we are in touch with the commission. They have one year to propose architectural plans and proposals for construction in the land parcel that has been allotted.

After that, if necessary, we will help them with advice so that everything turns out well.

We hope to announce the good news about the opening of the museum in three years.

Hayern Aysor: Are you the only Armenian member of Glendale City Council?

V. G.: No, there are three Armenian members. The council has a total of five members. The mayor changes every year. If we take a look at the history, it should be mentioned that, to this day, Glendale has had five mayors of Armenian descent. The first was Larry Zarian, followed by Raffi Manoukian, Bob Yousefian, Zareh Sinanyan and Ara Najarian.

I will most probably become the mayor of Glendale next year.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gharpetian, is it easy to become mayor of Glendale and receive the vote of public confidence?

V. G.: Citizens of Glendale don’t vote for the mayor. The five members of the council decide which of them will be the next mayor. It is safe to say that it is a more emblematic office.

To be elected mayor, all you need to do is to receive the vote of public confidence. If the public trusts you, you will garner votes. If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t expect its endorsement.

National belonging doesn’t play any role in the elections anymore. People have become much more experienced and politically mature. They won’t vote for you just because you are Armenian.

Hayern Aysor: If elected mayor of Glendale, what new ideas and programs will you present to citizens of Glendale?

V. G.: After being elected mayor, I plan to form a delegation comprised of employees of Glendale City Council and members of the Board of the Glendale Unified School District and visit Armenia. My idea is to have employees of Glendale Police Department, Glendale Emergency Department, Glendale Traffic Unit and the other departments visit Armenia, meet their counterparts, become familiar with the working conditions and, why not, make reciprocal visits to share their experiences.

Generally speaking, we can carry out different programs by cooperating with Armenia. We must first climb the small mountain so that we can reach the peak. As they say, a person who puts a weight on his shoulders will have trouble lifting the weight off his shoulders.

Hayern Aysor: The four-day war in Artsakh proved the unity of the Armenian people once again. What programs did the Armenian community of Glendale carry out to support Artsakh?

V. G.: We immediately followed the events that were taking place in Armenia and Artsakh following the four-day Artsakh war. The Armenians of Glendale immediately rose to their feet. We organized telethons, opened funds and bank accounts and received assistance from individuals.

We were constantly in touch with the Government of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to understand what kind of assistance was necessary. We also offered to provide human resources. There were volunteers who wanted to leave for Artsakh. They made an announcement during the rally held on April 23.

I want the people of Armenia to be rest assured that the Armenians abroad are ready to do everything they can to support Artsakh and the Armenian Army.

The war in April provided us with another opportunity to see the real image of Turkey and Azerbaijan and understand their goals. We witnessed once again the brutal policy of the enemy that killed and wounded brave Armenian soldiers and peaceful Armenian civilians.

As an Armenian, I felt very proud to see how the Armenian soldiers won the war unleashed by Azerbaijan with the invincible spirit. The Armenian Army might be behind the opponent in terms of quantity, but it is unquestionably the leader in terms of quality, readiness and efficiency.

Now the only thing our boys need is to good military equipment and healthy food.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Gharpetian, during your visit to Armenia, you also participated in the grand opening ceremony of the third stage of the “Ari Tun” Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora. What do you have to say about the program?

V. G.: Of course, I commend the “Ari Tun” Program. It serves as a great impetus for “infecting” young Diaspora Armenians with patriotism, helping introduce them to the history of Armenia and the sites worth seeing in the country and return to their roots.

What is also important is that they have the opportunity to stay with host families and participate in Armenian language lessons.

My daughter was also attending the opening ceremony of the “Ari Tun” Program. Seeing how happy the children and youth were, she got excited and said she wanted to participate in the program. She might visit Armenia through the “Ari Tun” Program next year.

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan

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