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Some Like Mike

Mike Gatto, candidate for AD 43

AD43 Candidate Mike Gatto talks to street-hassle

There area few things that keep Mike Gatto up at night: a new baby in the house, Republican opponent Sunder Ramani...and the echoes of the daytime DWP refurbishment project just north of Silver Lake Reservoir.

"The project they're doing near our house--the vibrations--it's like, what's Tom LaBonge doing to the Reservoir now?" he jokes.

The son of an art teacher and an activist mother who now works the phones for her son, Gatto, a middle child, knows very well what's going on in the southern edge of the 43rd Assembly District, where he is the Democratic nominee to fill the seat abandoned by Paul Krekorian.

We caught up with Gatto at Barbarella on Hyperion, where, exhausted by a day of campaigning, he quickly launched into a steak dish.

Gatto grew up in the District he hopes to represent, attending Ivanhoe Elementary in Silver Lake and Our Mother of Good Counsel in Los Feliz. He studied history at UCLA and became an attorney, doing some time at LA's top Democratic law firm, O'Melveny & Myers before launching on his own political career.

Described by a local editor as "a smart, centrist, fiscal the mold of only a few very rare legislators like Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg CA and Keith Richman of the SF Valley," Gatto is young, easy-going, and enormously candid.

"When my staff told me that Daily News endorsed me, I thought they were kidding me," he says.

Gatto debunked a few myths populated elsewhere--for instance, contrary to claims that he doesn't want to debate, he says the two candidates have indeed debated since the primary, May 5 before a crowd of over a hundred in an event sponsored by the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Association--and also the idea that Chahe Keuroghelian and his team had any kind of a dialog before Keuroghelian entered the race.

"When I heard Chahe opt-in the race I could not even spell his name!" Gatto laughs.

He sees the race as being decided on its perimeters; he'll run well in the Democratic strongholds of Los Feliz and Silver Lake and concedes Ramani will do well in Glendale, where Ramani has secured some key Armenian community endorsements by trumpeting his opposition to gay marriage.

But his campaign's main theme is bringing spending restraint and fiscal responsibility to Sacto, where Gatto hopes to distinguish himself as a fiscally sensible Democrat.

Gatto also knows horse racing very well, and will likely take some time out of his schedule to catch the Belmont Stakes today. "What was your favorite Belmont that wasn't a Triple Crown win?" he suddenly asks your pony-picking scribe. Searching the memory banks...the great late nineties races...Charismatic, Real Quiet, one of those two races, I say. A consensus-builder, Gatto lobbies for the photo finish with Real Quiet.

After dinner, it occurs to one departing scribe that the other notable race, Tuesday's, will similarly end in a photo.