Group photo of participants who attended the Armenian Business Roundtable

Michigan Armenian Business Roundtable with Senate Candidate James and Governor Christie

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West Bloomfield, Michigan – On Friday, October 30, an Armenian Business Roundtable was held with Republican US Senate Candidate John James and guest Governor Chris Christie at the Shenandoah Country Club. The event was organized by Corinne Kachadourian Khederian, a former Republican elected official and Volunteer State of Michigan Vice Chair of the Armenian Assembly of America. She was assisted by Edward Haroutunian, an Armenian activist and founding chair of the Wayne County Republican Committee, and John Jamian, the first Armenian elected to the Michigan State legislature and currently Volunteer State of Michigan Director of the Armenian Assembly of America.

From left, US Senate Candidate John James, Governor Chris Christie, Corinne Khederian, Edmond Azadian and Edward Haroutunian

John James is in the last few days of campaigning for the Michigan US Senate seat in a hotly contested race and is currently 2 points ahead in the polls of the Democrat currently holding the seat. He is the son of parents, as he states, from the “Jim Crow South” and grew up in Detroit.  James is a West Point graduate, served his country with distinction in Operation Iraqi Freedom and currently serves as President of his family business that was started by his father.

In the meeting, James proved himself to be a friend of the Armenian community. The main topic that was at the top of everyone’s mind was the aggression occurring in Artsakh by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

According to Khederian, “Father Aren Jebejian, Pastor of St. John Armenian Church (representing the four Michigan Armenian churches), John Jamian, Judges Lisa Asadoorian and Krista Haroutunian and other attendees explained to Mr. James and Governor Christie the mass devastation and casualties that are occurring to Armenian civilians, soldiers, churches and infrastructure since September 27.”

From left, Corinne Khederian, Father Aren Jebejian, John James and Edward Haroutunian

Khederian explained to James that everyone attending had lost family members in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and now another genocide is impacting Armenians today which must end. “John James was appalled at the kind of devastation taking place against a civilian population in Karabakh, and was very moved to determine for himself why the killing could not stop now,” said Edward Haroutunian.

Christie, who is very familiar with the Armenian community from his service as governor of the State of New Jersey, also stated his concern for what was happening to the Armenians overseas.  He reviewed a map of the region with attendee Sandy Mouradian to gain a better understanding of the area impacted.

From left, Governor Chris Christie and Sandy Mouradian look at map

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The Michigan Armenians who attended signed a letter addressed to Governor Christie asking him to convey their support for President Trump and their immediate concerns about the devastating war in Nagorno-Karabakh impacting Armenia and the actions they believed were needed to be taken to have a sustainable binding humanitarian ceasefire in Karabakh after three unsuccessful ones have been brokered and agreed to by President Trump for the United States, France and Russia. Governor Christie accepted the letter presented to him by Khederian and agreed to personally deliver it to President Trump for his review, as well, when he will see him next on election day.

Other topics discussed included James’ desire to keep and promote charter schools in the United States. He explained that education is a “civil right” and children should have the ability to attend a school of choice. “The failing education system,” according to James, “is our country’s number one civil rights threat.” Fr. Jebejian and Edmond Azadian, a director at the Manoogian School on the St. John campus, explained to James that one of the first charter schools approved by the state of Michigan was the Manoogian School.

Covid protocol was wisely strictly enforced with everyone wearing masks during the entire event. James spoke of the obligation to help fellow community members at a time when others are in need. Both James and Christie praised the “Seerov Josh” program that Fr. Jebejian described as an initiative consisting of church members preparing and serving meals for those in need.

Overall, participants were very pleased with Mr. James’ and Governor Christie’s presentations and genuine concern for our community and encourage Armenians to support Mr. James for US Senate. James plans on visiting the St. John community for a meet-and-greet in the near future at the invitation of Fr. Jebejian. Those interested in learning more about John James for US Senate can go to his website located at the following link:  https://johnjamesforsenate.com/.

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