Odds for unseating Levine slim, but two trying

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO — The 40th Assembly District in the central San Fernando Valley has been reliably Democratic for years, but that isn’t stopping two underfunded and unknown Republicans from seeking to topple incumbent Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, this year. Armineh Chelebian, a self-employed accountant, and Rick Montaine, a computer systems analyst, are vying in the June primary for the GOP nomination in the district that stretches from Northridge and Van Nuys to Woodland Hills. Voter registration in the district is about 48-29 in favor of Democrats. Chelebian and Montaine, both Winnetka residents, knew each other before the campaign. They served together on the Winnetka Neighborhood Council. They get along well and decline to take shots at each other. “We know each other. We respect each other,” Chelebian said. When asked why voters should choose him instead of Chelebian, Montaine is at a bit of a loss, calling his opponent a “sweetheart” and an “excellent candidate.” He notes, however, that he was first to declare his candidacy and said he was surprised when she decided to run. “I have to admit: I’m a bit flustered that she decided to do this,” Montaine said. “If it came down to voting between Levine or Armineh, I would definitely vote for Armineh.” But in the June 6 primary, of course, “I’d vote for me,” he said. Chelebian, who also ran for the Valley city council that would have been created if voters had passed secession from Los Angeles in 2001, said she is running because she hopes to make a difference in the community. She also ran as a write-in for L.A. City Council in 2003. Chelebian said her perspective as a mother of two — a daughter, age 18, and a son, 15 — helps guide her values as a candidate. She said she wants to improve the educational system by breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District into smaller districts and giving more authority to principals, parents and teachers. “I believe when it’s big, it doesn’t have enough local control,” she said. “The school district has seven board members overlooking 750,000 students now. When do they find time to really concentrate on the issues that are important within the classroom?” She also supports California’s proposed version of Jessica’s Law, the November ballot measure that would increase sentences for molesters of children younger than age 14 and would require them, if eventually paroled, to wear GPS monitoring bracelets for life. Chelebian said she also wants to improve the state’s business climate by lowering taxes and seeking ways to make government more efficient, rather than looking at additional bond issues. Montaine has been running an under-the-radar campaign. His job as a computer systems analyst doesn’t give him much time for campaign activities and he hasn’t raised any funds. He said he realizes a Republican has a slim chance of defeating Levine in a district where voter registration is lopsidedly in favor of the incumbent. He said he is running mainly to highlight opposition to some of Levine’s policies, especially the incumbent’s co-sponsorship of an assisted-suicide bill. Montaine said he believes in the sanctity of life and thinks such a bill would also cause conflict among family members of someone considering an assisted suicide. “I don’t really like the way I see things going on up in Sacramento,” Montaine said. He said he would like to see schools spend more of their budgets on classroom materials, such as books, paper and pencils. He also would like to see gasoline tax revenues go toward fixing roads and not be subject to raiding by the Legislature for other purposes.— [email protected] (916) 446-6723last_img read more