By Natalie MAIER
Conflict erupted between the 43rd District Assembly candidates, Democrat incumbent Mike Gatto and Republican challenger Greg Krikorian, during a debate in the Glendale City Council chambers on the evening of Thursday, Oct 25. The debate was also shown via live stream at the La Crescenta Library.
Rita Zwern was the moderator from the Glendale/Burbank League of Women Voters, and the questions asked were submitted by the public. Three minutes were allowed for each candidate to present his opening and closing statements, and two minutes were given to answer each question.
Gatto began by giving examples of some of his past reforms including initiative reform and campaign finance reform, and passing legislation to create a rainy day fund.
“The reason I ran is the same thing I hear from so many people that I talk to: We want common sense, no nonsense solutions in Sacramento,” Gatto said in his opening statement.
Krikorian, a longtime Glendale Unified School District board of education member, focused primarily on the need to create jobs.
“I stand before you as an average citizen, not as a lawyer or a politician. I stand before you as one of you,” Krikorian said. “Our state is in a crisis. We can’t continue this course. Many people are losing jobs. I’m not here to pass bills or laws, I’m here to bring jobs and bring back common sense. I’m here to represent you,”
Krikorian spoke about his experience serving on the Glendale board of education.
“Being on the Glendale Board of Education, we have a great working relationship with Glendale Community College,” he said. “We developed programs in Glendale High School that are bridge programs in digital arts, and programs to help them in their future.”
Krikorian went on to say that tuition at Glendale Community College has been raised twice under Gatto.
“For the past 12 years we have been cutting in our public schools,” he said. “I’m committed to protect our children, families and teachers. Our professors at the community college level need sustainable measures to keep them employed, so they aren’t worried about losing their job.”
When asked about taxes, Gatto said that he would make sure Californians were less dependent on revenue streams and income taxes and that he would spread out the tax code so that people feel that it is “a little more fair.”
Krikorian countered this statement by promising to cut taxes the day he gets elected. His ideas for raising money include bringing business back to California and investing in public education.
A question was asked whether the candidates supported gay marriage.
“I unequivocally support the right for people in the LBGT(Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender) community to marry. I hope the court strikes down Proposition 8 because I think there are a lot of loving couples out there who wish to get married,” Gatto said.
Krikorian said that individuals should be able to make their own choices, but quickly turned the attention back to creating jobs, saying that he feels unemployment is a more pressing matter at this time.
In response to what changes the candidates propose to fix in the initiative and referendum process, Gatto promised to protect California’s state constitution, which has been amended over 521 times.
“That is a document that has been used and abused by special interest; it’s a document that must be preserved. I introduced ACA 10 which is a constitution protection act. It’s a measure that simply says that if you are going to pass something in the constitution, you need the type of consensus that our founding fathers received,” said Gatto.
Offering ideas on cost-saving measures, Krikorian said he plans on introducing Kindles and iPads to schools, thereby negating the need to spend millions of dollars on new textbooks.
“The concepts and initiatives and the suggestions I have will save money. I’m going to start cutting costs in Sacramento like we’ve done in Glendale Unified School District,” Krikorian said. “I plan on making realistic cuts that help our citizens here in this community, not to have people living off our taxpayers.”