Meet Mike Gatto
By Mary O’KEEFE
Mike Gatto is the democratic incumbent running for the office of State Assembly District 43. He was elected into office in June 2010 during a special election and was re-elected to a full term in November 2010.
Crescenta Valley Weekly sat down with Assemblymember Gatto to discuss his 2012 run for office and how, due to redistricting, he now represents the unincorporated area of La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and the Angeles National Forest as well as parts of Burbank and Hollywood.
“The interesting thing about California is [we] have the largest legislative districts in the country,” Gatto said.
If elected to another term, Gatto will represent about 500,000 residents.
When asked what he has most enjoyed about his first term in office, he said, “I like having a say in the ability to fix the very large problems the state is facing. It is a real honor to have the trust of so many people.”
“I don’t think it is a mystery that few people are happy right now,” he added. “California is in a tremendous funk. I would like to see California return to the state I knew as a child.”
Gatto grew up in the Franklin Hills and Sliver Lake areas of Los Angeles. His father was a schoolteacher and his mother, in her mid-40s and with three children, attended law school at night. She practiced many years in her Brand Boulevard office in Glendale.
Gatto attended Los Angeles City College, UC Berkeley and UCLA graduating with a degree in history. He worked with U. S. Congressman Brad Sherman who represented the San Fernando Valley and Burbank. Like his mother he attended law school at night at Loyola Law School.
His history of service and strong family foundation has helped him in Sacramento, as has his birth order. Gatto is a middle child, traditionally the peacemaker of the family.
“I [listen to] every perspective. I try to put myself in everyone’s shoes,” he said. “There is no monopoly on a good idea.”
Working together is not commonplace with either the federal or state governments, however Gatto said he has been able to reach across the aisle on several occasions to get things done.
“In the old days people said [elected officials] were more cordial to each other,” he said. “I just try to be cordial.”
Gatto said he is proud of what he has been able to accomplish while in office. One of the first bills he worked on was the State Rainy Day Fund, which forced the state to budget and save financial resources.
Since the gold rush days California has been a boom or bust state. The Rainy Day Fund is a way to even those times out so when there is plenty, some is put back for those times of struggle.
When he was first in office, the Glendale Police Department contacted him concerning the city’s problem with speeding vehicles. There was a law that would force cities to raise their speed limits if a road study concluded the road could handle a higher speed. The limit would be raised regardless of what residents wanted.
“I was able to get that bill through,” he said.
He is waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision on another bill he co-authored that will help extend tax credits for film productions and help battle Run Away Hollywood, the term that has been used for the production companies taking the industry away from Southern California to more film friendly states and countries. It would extend the California Film and television Tax Credit Program for two years.
“I had to convince [fellow legislators] that it is not about supporting [high financed] producers but people who work in the business like costume designers and grips,” he said.
Gatto said he enjoys working on legislation that will help the state as well as helping individual communities.
“On the local level, I like helping to find funding for the Two Strike Park [War] Memorial,” he said.
Gatto helped bring funds and materials to the memorial project by working with Home Depot.
The assemblymember and his wife, Danielle Gatto, have a 2-year-old girl and are expecting their second child in October.