California: (1) Farsi Ballots, and (2) Iranian-born mayor?

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 17 16:14:26 UTC 2007

1. Farsi Ballots Cause Beverly Hills Uproar

UPDATED: 7:33 am PST February 23, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For the first time, Beverly Hills has translated
its entire absentee and sample ballots into Farsi, prompting hundreds of
residents to complain, it was reported Friday. "I believe the cover is
what shocked the community," City Clerk Byron Pope, who had instructed the
city's election materials supplier to print the entire ballot, cover to
cover, in English and Farsi, told The Los Angeles Times.

"I believe it was the Farsi script, with the war going on and all," Pope,
who personally fielded about 100 of the complaint calls, told the
newspaper. Farsi is written in Arabic script. The translation is the
latest measure of the growing influence of Persian culture in Beverly
Hills, where Iranians now make up about a fifth of the city's 35,000
residents. The influx, which began in the late 1970s as wealthy Iranians
clustered in Beverly Hills after the fall of the shah, has made a mark on
many facets of the city, from architecture to the schools, according to
The Times.

But, as in the case of the ballots, it also has caused friction. Some
long-time residents have complained about newcomers tearing down historic
homes in favor of what they consider monolithic white "Persian palaces,"
The Times reported.

2.   Beverly Hills could get its first Iranian-born mayor

By Peter Prengaman, Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS After marking their votes on bilingual English-Farsi
ballots, residents of this tony Los Angeles suburb awaited the final tally
in City Council race that highlighted the growing clout of Iranian
immigrants here and could lead to the city having its first Iranian mayor.
City council incumbent Jimmy Delshad was one of three candidates of
Iranian descent running for two open council seats. The top two finishers
will get seats on the council, and re-election would give the 66-year-old
Delshad the seniority to be named mayor.

Early Wednesday, challenger Nancy Krasne led the field of six candidates,
according to unofficial results posted on the city's website. She had
2,486 votes, or 24%. Delshad was holding onto his seat with a mere
seven-vote lead over incumbent Mayor Steve Webb, in third place. Delshad
had 2,192 votes or 22%, to Webb's 2,185 votes, or 21%. While 100% of
precincts were reporting, 892 provisional and outstanding ballots remained
to be verified. "This is the beginning of a very important trend," said
Abbas Milani, co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at Stanford
University. "Having done the economic part of establishing their roots,
Iranians are getting more organized in politics."

The chance to become one of the highest ranking elected Iranian-American
officials in the United States was not lost on Delshad. "Iranians have
always been successful in business and education," Delshad said. "But they
don't think of themselves participating in politics even though local
politics is what most impacts their lives." In Beverly Hills, the mayor is
the presiding officer of the council; a hired city manager is the city's
executive officer. An Iranian influx into Southern California began after
the last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was toppled in the 1979
Islamic revolution in Iran, prompting thousands of Iranians especially
Jewish and educated classes to come to America. Today about 8,000 of
Beverly Hill's approximately 35,000 residents are of Iranian descent.

Delshad moved to Beverly Hills 18 years ago after immigrating to America
as a teenager. He started a successful computer hardware company, and sold
it after being elected president in 1999 of the Sinai Temple, a
conservative Jewish congregation a few blocks west of city limits. He has
campaigned on promises to improve traffic flow, provide free Internet
service and install "smart" cameras that can alert police departments to
criminal activity. The Iranian-American presence here became a campaign
issue last month when sample ballots were sent out in Farsi and English.
City Hall received hundreds of complaints, said Byron Pope, the city

Delshad said he opposed the bilingual ballots and tried to make clear he
had nothing to do with them. "The Iranian community is one of the most
educated minorities in America and reads English well," he said. "The
ballots only caused confusion, and were an insult to many Iranians."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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