Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 5:32 pm | Fair 71º


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Katcho Achadjian Heads to Santa Barbara to Announce Run for Central Coast Congressional Seat

The 35th District Assemblyman reveals his candidacy while surrounded by local Republican leaders and supporters

Katcho Achadjian, 35th District Assemblyman, announced his candidacy for the 24th Congressional District on Friday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden.
Katcho Achadjian, 35th District Assemblyman, announced his candidacy for the 24th Congressional District on Friday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian came out swinging Friday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, declaring his candidacy for the 24th Congressional District seat and promising to fight for the people, not the political parties. 

"I will be a fierce advocate in Congress for the Central Coast," Achadjian said during his announcement speech.  

Achadjian, a Republican, is serving his third term representing the 35th District in the California Assembly and previously served three terms on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

He was surrounded by the region's Republican heavy hitters for his announcement, including former Assemblyman Brooks Firestone, former Santa Barbara City Councilman Dr. Dan Secord, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Santa Barbara City Councilman Frank Hotchkiss. Chris Mitchum, who unsuccessfully ran for the seat last election, was among the dozens of people flanking Achadjian during the announcement. 

"This is the beginning of something great for the Central Coast," Firestone shouted into the microphone.

Achadjian, 63, and his supporters began to lay the framework for a narrative that they hope will propel the candidate into office. He's an Armenian immigrant who became an American citizen in 1982. He epitomizes the American Dream, supporters said, as a man whose first job was pumping gas, but who now owns several gas stations employing more than two dozen people.

Achadjian served on the California Coastal Commission and is the former chairman of the First Five Commission in San Luis Obispo County. Supporters said he's a listener, who as assemblyman attends people's backyard barbecues with as much vigor and passion as he does walking the halls of the state Capitol in Sacramento. 

"This is the most qualified candidate the Central Coast has ever seen," Firestone boomed. "He understands and appreciates the greatness of America."

Achadjian joins an already crowded race more than a year ahead of the 2016 primary. He will battle Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and First District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, both Democrats, along with Republican Justin Fareed, a former Santa Barbara High School football star. Laura Capps, the daughter of retiring Congresswoman Lois Capps, is also considering a run. Other candidates may emerge in the coming months.

Achadjian enjoys great popularity in San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County, but lacks the same name recognition in southern Santa Barbara County. His press conference at Santa Barbara's political epicenter was step one of what is intended to be a concerted effort to introduce himself to the South Coast and its mostly liberal voters.

Achadjian says he plans to spend at least $2 million leading up to the primary.

"He has done it all," Firestone said. "He is completely prepared and would serve us with distinction."

Achadjian said he wants to streamline government bureaucracy and allow citizens an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

"My goal is to make government more efficient and business friendly," he said. "I did not forget where I came from."

Secord served on the California Coastal Commission with Achadjian and called him honest, thoughtful and business-friendly.

"Katcho represents what people and businesses can do to make themselves better," Secord said. 

Hotchkiss said Achadjian is the most qualified candidate.

"His story about the American Dream is very impressive to me," Hotchkiss said. "He knows the possibilities."

Achadjian said he wants South Coast voters to know that he believes in the "spirit of free enterprise" and the freedom for everyone to pursue their dreams. He said South Coast residents will learn something very important about him. 

"I am one of them," Achadjian said. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I am committed to working with everyone."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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