The Politics of the Personal: Activism, Advocacy and Asatryan

The author Joseph Kazazian with candidate Elen Asatryan

The author Joseph Kazazian with candidate Elen Asatryan


Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, the prolific Democrat and statesman Tip O’Neill once famously quipped that “all politics is local.”

Whether that is County Committee, City Council, Board of Supervisors, College Board, School Board, hell, even pallbearer if it were an elected position, requires the elected official to be a trustee of the voter, and someone who can relate to the issues of their community.

Good people make good policy. Good policy makes good law. In our state, Democrats are very much in charge, and it does not appear that that will change soon. However, in the spirit of democracy, each party has its organs, its members, and its decisionmakers. One of the most important functions that political parties have are their central committees, which in California are divided by their respective assembly district. Los Angeles has its own Democratic County Central Committee, which represents over 2.7 million democrats and makes decisions that have not just a local effect, but nationwide.

You may wonder, what is a Democratic County Central Committee anyway? Believe it or not, dear readers, it encompasses some of the most vital and important decisionmaking as it relates to the California Democratic Party, its platform, the candidates they endorse, where money is allocated, among many other functions. Perhaps in this hyper-partisan time, with infighting even among Democrats and Liberals, you need someone who can navigate these schisms and make decisions for all Angelenos, and for all of California.

Elen Asatryan is more than qualified to be the person who represents my interests, and many others interests in the California Democratic Party. As mentioned above, good people make good policy. Good policy makes good law. I can personally vouch for Elen.

I met Elen sometime around 2011, when I was starting off as an intern at the ANCA Western Region, while she was the Executive Director of the ANCA Glendale. I think we both bonded over the fact that we wore Mickey Mouse printed shoes.

We really began to work together for the first time in 2013, as several city campaigns overlapped in Los Angeles and Glendale. After crossing paths at mixers, we finally got the opportunity to work together; that led to the beginning of a great work partnership and the blossoming of a time-tested friendship. While Elen was Executive Director of the ANCA Western Region, I was a member of the ANCA Western Region’s Government Affairs Committee.

Since those times, Elen and I led advocacy groups up to Sacramento, worked on state and federal projects, and even had a minor role in a Velvet Revolution you might have heard about. The level of trust that has developed with the battles we have fought for the community and its interests is beyond words. Knowing Elen, I am lucky to know that there is a fighter like her on our side.

But there’s more to it, at least for me, to be a good leader. Every person in public life starts somewhere. As an activist, I’ve had the (mis)fortune of meeting many elected officials and candidates in different capacities. I’ve met many people who show up as a candidate for office who promise the world, but in reality, think they are God’s gift to humanity (I wish I was kidding.) However, it is a rare quality to meet people who run for public office that are actually-wait for it-regular people like me and you.

Elen is one of the most compassionate people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. In some of the most trying times of my life, she’s lent an ear. She’s given invaluable advice. But I think one of the most endearing qualities that Elen has is the ability to never allow someone to feel left out or unimportant in the process.

She is tough, smart, never minces words, and a true fighter for her loved ones and her community. As time passes, our friendship and our resolve has gotten deeper; for leading this community into a better position than it might have been in before we arrived into it.

Elen is the consummate leader, and for those participating in the upcoming election, Elen Asatryan deserves your vote. The Democratic Party would be lucky to have her. So if you live in the 43rd assembly district (Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta-Montrose, La Cañada Flintridge, and L.A. neighborhoods in 90027, 90029, 90068 and most of 90039), are a registered democrat, or you have declined to state a political party preference, and request a democratic ballot – you can vote by mail or at 1,000 voter centers throughout LA County between Feb 22-March 3rd. Learn more at


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