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Aghakhanian fails to move to Burbank school board general election

March 01, 2013

Armond Aghakhanian is officially out of the Burbank Unified school board race after collecting the least amount of primary election votes among five candidates competing for two seats.

With just 2,749 votes, Aghakhanian trailed at fifth place behind David Dobson, who had 2,854, according to final figures released Friday by the city clerk’s office.

The two had been within the margin of unconfirmed mail-in ballots after Tuesday, forcing the candidates to wait until the results had been verified.

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Incumbent Larry Applebaum led with 4,473 votes, followed by Charlene Tabet, who had 3,026, and Steve Ferguson who won 3,013.

In a statement issued after the results were announced, Aghakhanian thanked his supporters, volunteers and others who were involved in a “truly grassroots campaign.” He also congratulated his fellow candidates on moving on to the general election.

“This campaign gave me the opportunity to listen to hard-working people with serious concerns,” he said. “During our campaign, we witnessed the miracle of democracy and what it is to be an American.”

The last place finish of Aghakhanian — a Woodbury Professor and six-year Burbank resident — came despite an early showing that appeared to gather political steam as far back as September.

More than 70 people had donated to Aghakhanian’s campaign by mid-February, contributing to a fundraising total of more than $20,000 — far more than any other candidate.

Records show he had spent close to $9,000 on his campaign by Feb. 9.

Aghakhanian had also secured more than 50 endorsements, including those from state Supt. Tom Torlakson and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

In all, 13 elected state officials endorsed his campaign. And he was back by the Burbank Teachers Assn.

The union’s political action committee — Burbank Teachers Assn. Fund for Children in Public Education — spent $8,000 in support of his and Ferguson's campaign as of Feb. 9, according to financial disclosure filings.

Meanwhile, a controversial super PAC injected money into the race on behalf of Dobson and Tabet, spending $6,675 on each their campaigns.

Aghakhanian was also one of the only candidates to use Facebook, Twitter and a website as to promote his campaign.

Still, it wasn’t enough to keep the momentum heading into Tuesday’s primary.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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