Washington, DC – Southern California Iranian Americans Dr. Siavash Gharib and Andy Manssourian, Esq. are running for elected office in the June 8 California Election. Gharib is campaigning to be Los Angeles County’s next Assessor, and Manssourian, Deputy District Attorney of Orange County, is running for Superior Court Judge.
After 18 years of service in the LA County Assessor’s Office (LACA), Dr. Siavash Gharib is running for the top job. “I was compelled to run for this position, because I am an engineer, not a politician. A lot of people who come through our office use it as a stepping stone to become politicians. They don’t care for the technical side, which is what the assessor’s office is all about,” he stated resolutely.
The function of an assessor’s office is to prepare the taxable value of the real estate and personal property in a given county or district. Assessors search for escaped property and make sure they are placed on the tax roll. The tax collector’s office then take the assessor’s information and apply the state’s constitutionally mandated tax rate to the bills (in California, 1% plus additives of 0.1-0.25% for local municipalities), then send them to constituents. Thus, the tax collector’s office is the clerical side; the assessor’s office is the technical side.
Dr. Gharib has lived in the US for over four decades, originally coming here in pursuit of a better education. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BS in Engineering in 1974. In 1980, he received a doctorate in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Southern California. “I love LA, I’ve been here for 41 years, but the property taxes are too high. I want to work to change that.”
Dr. Gharib’s campaign has gained significant attention in the LA Iranian-American community, and he has garnered the endorsement of prominent Iranian Americans ranging from Dr. Abolghassem Ghaffari, the eminent scientist who worked with Albert Einstein, to singer Sattar. In a Persian-language video announcing his endorsement, Sattar stated, “In my opinion I think however much we can expand our influence in the US, we can do better things. We need to show our numbers.”
Dr. Gharib expands on this, saying, “Our history and traditions are incredibly rich, but every time we’ve tried to progress, we’ve been stunted. In the US, we don’t have that problem. It’s up to us to expand our participation in the political process.”
“We need small but smart government. The fate of the people is in the hand of the government, it must work for the people. You can have 10,000 people sitting in a corner playing backgammon, or 5,000 people equipped with knowledge ready to jump in the car and fight for the people,” he states resolutely.
The LACA has 1,300 people on staff and a budget of $130 million. It is a highly technical office and deals with taxes. “We cannot afford to let an individual from Sacramento or LA City Hall, with no experience in this field, take the reins,” Dr. Gharib says. “I’m the highest expert in the office. I’m the chief expert for defending our values in the Court. I know I can solve the problems.”
After 3 years in private practice and 10 years at the District Attorney’s office, Andy Manssourian is running for Superior Court Judge in Orange County (OC). “It’s a challenge I’m really interested in taking on, and I look forward to continuing my service to the community in that capacity,” he said.
Born in London, Manssourian lived in Tehran for 5 years before moving to Southern California on the eve of the Revolution. He and his family settled in Glendale, where he developed his strong ties to the Iranian-American community. “I remember attending concerts, festivals and picnics on Sundays with my family and friends. My closest friends today are those same Iranians I went to the park with.”
Manssourian attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received a BA in Political Science. He then headed straight for law school, earning a JD from Santa Clara University in the South San Francisco Bay Area. After graduation, he worked for three years as a criminal defense attorney at a small firm in OC before being hired by the District Attorney’s Office.
“I knew I wanted to be an attorney at age 12. It’s in my personality – taking a position, defending it, persuading people. It was an easy career move for me,” Manssourian said. “When I was young I watched shows like Perry Mason which exposed me to the idea of criminal law, solving crimes and prosecuting the guilty.”
While California’s June 8 election is a primary for most races, Manssourian has just one competitor – whoever wins the most votes is elected automatically.