Kathryn Barger, sixth from left, sits with members of the Armenian community.

LA Community Members Meet with LA Supervisor Kathryn Barger


By Kevork Keushkerian

PASADENA — An Armenian community round table meeting was organized by the Western District Committee of the Armenian General Benevolent Union to introduce Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. It was held on Friday, July 19, at the AGBU center in Pasadena.

Barger serves the residents of Los Angeles County’s 5th Supervisorial District, the county’s largest (2 million), spanning 2800 square miles, which includes 22 cities and 70 unincorporated communities in the San Gabriel, San Fernando, Crescenta, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Vallies. Cities with an abundant Armenian population like Pasadena, Glendale, and Burbank are in the 5th District.

Present at the meeting were Father Armenag Bedrossian from the Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Western District Director of the Armenian Assembly of America Mihran Toumajan, Roy Boulghourjian from the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian, Kevork Keushkerian from the Tekeyan Cultural Association, Harout Markarian from the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, Asbed Tatoulin from St. Gregory Armenian Church in Pasadena and many others.

AGBU Wester District Committee Chairlady Talin Yacoubian welcomed the guests and briefly dwelled upon the history of AGBU, the world’s largest Armenian non-profit organization, which promotes education, cultural, and sports activities to preserve the identity of our youth in the vast Diaspora. She then invited moderator Steve Samuelian to introduce Barger.

Samuelian said that Barger has been working with the former Supervisor Mike Antonovich for the last 28 years, until she was elected to replace him, when he decided to retire. She had started in that office as an intern and gradually rose to the rank of Supervisor, two and a half years ago. He then asked the Supervisor to present her achievements so far and lay out her plans.

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Barger noted that not only the Board of Supervisors commemorate the Armenian Genocide every year, but they also allocate a whole month every year to celebrate the contributions of Armenian in the community. She then mentioned that she was instrumental in the decision of the Board to donate one million dollars to the Armenian Museum in Glendale. She further said that she has a good working relationship with State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who also managed to contribute a sizable amount of money from the State of California to the Armenian Museum in Glendale.

Talking about her plans for the future, she said that her priority was to work hard to alleviate the homeless problem in the county of Los Angeles. She wants to work with the members of the Los Angeles City Council to find solutions to the drug addiction problem that is spread throughout the city and the county. Her other immediate concern is the mentally illness crisis and, to that end, she wants to add more beds in the hospitals to take care of the mentally ill. She is committed to measure H, which will be on the ballot next year. This will provide the necessary funding for seven years to help the homeless and the mentally ill people.

Barger emphasized the notion that elected officials should not be concerned about politics and reelection, rather to help people in their districts. In that effort, she said that she wants to implement an Italian village model, where people take care of people. This is especially true in the homeless population, where people feel neglected by the general public. She also wants to improve the foster home system.

She is looking forward to taking over the chair of the Board of Supervisors in December, when she will be able to set the agenda for the Board and tilt its direction towards solving problems pertaining to items of her priority. Another item on her agenda that she is looking forward to is her upcoming trip to Armenia, on Saturday, July 27, with her Chief Deputy, Anna Mouradian.

Answering a question about the number of homeless in her District, she said that there were 56,000 homeless people in the County of Los Angeles, 6 percent of whom are in her District 5. This amounts to 3,360.

At the end of the question and answer session, Mihran Toumajan presented Barger a book by Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian, titled President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Rug. A reception followed a group picture taken for the archives.

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