Rally Around Peter Koutoujian

LOWELL, Mass.—Over the years, Peter Koutoujian has been a good friend to the Armenians of Merrimack Valley, both back when he served as a state representative and now as sheriff of Middlesex County.

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian addresses a Merrimack Valley crowd during an Armenian Genocide observance in Lowell
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian addresses a Merrimack Valley crowd during an Armenian Genocide observance in Lowell

He’s come aboard as a powerful speaker and more recently as honorary chairman of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee at Lowell City Hall. He’s fought for identity and resolution, touching other political figures and inspiring them to become connected.

Now it’s time for Merrimack Valley to offer its own appreciation and support toward his re-election campaign.

A committee called Armenians for Merrimack Valley has joined together to sponsor a fundraising reception on Thurs., Aug. 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 4 Highwood Drive, in Tewksbury, off Route 133.

Members include Dr. Florence Bejian Bahtiarian, Mike Bahtiarian, Peter Bogosian, Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, Dr. Ara Jeknavorian, Aram Jeknavorian, Armen Jeknavorian, Paul Ketchoyian, Greg Minasian, Mimi Parseghian, and Tom Vartabedian.

Koutoujian will be opposed in the primary election Sept. 8 by Barry Kelleher, a career corrections professional. Kelleher has worked in the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office for the past 18 years. There is no opponent for the general election in November.

Koutoujian was sworn in as Middlesex County sheriff in 2011 by Governor Duval Patrick to fill a vacancy at this historic office, which was established in 1692. In November 2012, he won election, representing 1.5 million residents with 77 percent of the vote.

Since the beginning, Koutoujian has hit the ground running, utilizing his legal and legislative experience to implement his vision toward law enforcement inside his district. His first action was to institute new policies designed to increase public confidence in the historic department.

Included was a policy that prohibits employees from donating to the sheriff’s political campaign and mandating campaign political finance education classes for all employees.

Koutoujian has also created new inmate vocational courses in environmentally friendly janitorial services and digital print shop design, thus increasing opportunities for men in his custody to gain essential job skills and become more marketable.

Prior to his appointment, Koutoujian represented the 10th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts State Legislature, where he was the lead sponsor for annual Armenian Genocide commemorations at the state house.

He spent several years spearheading efforts to win the approval of Armenian Heritage Park, which opened May 2012 along the newly created Rose Kennedy Greenway. For his efforts, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor as well as the Mkhitar Gosh Medal for exemplary service in the field of diplomacy, law, and political science.

Koutoujian’s grandparents emigrated here from Turkey during the genocide and settled in Waltham. His dad became a fixture in the community, serving as city councilor and later as city clerk. Peter followed his father into elected office and made Armenian-American issues a central focus throughout his political career.

Contributions may be made to the Koutoujian Committee and mailed to 293 Ash St., Waltham, MA 02453, or readers can donate securely online at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/mvarmenian.


Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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