By Ani Marselian

To better acquaint Massis Weekly readers with 24th Congressional District candidate Katcho Achadjian, we sat down with him to discuss his candidacy, future goals, political platform as well as his accomplishments as the current Assemblymember of California’s 35th District. The 24th Congressional District, which Assemblymember  Achadjian is running for, includes the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, as well as parts of Ventura County.

– Why did you enter politics and why is it a large part of your life?
– In 1982 I became a United States Citizen, and since then I have made it my mission to give back to the many communities that gave so much to me. I began my journey as a government official with this same intention. At the time when I first entered political office, I was focused on raising my family and being involved in the community. The opportunity to run for office came up when the outgoing Board of Supervisors and several community leaders recruited me to run for a seat. With the blessing of my wife and family, I ran for the Board and was able to win. My intention has always been to propel the community forward, just as they did for me in my younger days, and that is what I have spent the last 17 years in office trying to do.

– Can you discuss your political platform, achievements, and why you want to become a Congressman? What is your vision?
– My main goal is to make government smaller and more efficient, so people have the freedom and opportunity to achieve their own dreams. I want to ensure that our federal government focuses on building a strong economy by making plenty of good jobs available, so that people across the country can support themselves and their families. These are the groundwork platforms that give America its Dream.

– On March 18, 2015, both Democrats and Republicans proposed the Armenian Genocide Resolution.  Why did that Resolution fail?
– The resolution did not pass because of the same political games we have seen out of Washington in years past. It is a combination of broken promises by our country’s leaders and the Turkish government dictating terms to our government. I do believe it had a beneficial impact however: we saw who our true allies in our national’s capitol really are.

– In your opinion does the external politics of the US influence Congressional voting?
– There are external and internal politics on all votes. We have seen a history of how outside influences have continually stopped recognition of the Armenian Genocide at the federal level.

– In your opinion, what are some of the positive effects of having Armenian representatives enter the Turkish parliament, for the Armenian population in Turkey?
– It is important for Armenians to have representation in the government of Turkey. There are still many Armenians who live in Turkey, and as is the case for any government, each individual should have a voice that represents them in the leadership. It is my hope that this can serve as a first step for a more open dialogue between Armenia and Turkey.

– The preservation of  the Armenian identity is crucial in the Diaspora, particularly in the US.  How can you help the new generation of Armenians preserve their Armenian identity?
– The beauty of America is indeed its melting pot. America is an incredibly accepting place, where a myriad of cultures is the very fabric of the nation’s identity. The Armenians in the US are incredibly fortunate to be able to practice their religion openly, open Armenian schools, and proudly share the Armenian culture with their neighbors. I believe each Armenian has the choice to pass down their language, customs, and culture through their families and friends. I also think it is important for all people of different backgrounds to learn about the histories and stories which make up those who live in America. Armenians, in particular, have a history from which there is much to learn. For this very reason, I co-authored legislation requiring the teaching of the Armenian Genocide in California schools.

– How can the Armenian American community help you in your congressional campaign?
– It is an honor that I can represent Armenians through my work in government. You can support my congressional campaign through many avenues: spreading the word, volunteering, or through financial support. This will be a tough campaign and any support you can lend would be greatly appreciated! Anyone looking to join my team can visit and click on “Join.”

– What does this office mean to you personally?
– This office is beyond anything I could have dreamed of attaining. The honor of being an immigrant in search of an education to a sitting member of the United States Congress would be beyond words for me to explain. More than anything, I want to serve as an example to our community that anything is in fact possible.

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