|Member of the California State Assembly
from the 43rd district
June 10, 2010
|Preceded by||Paul Krekorian|
October 19, 1974 |
Los Angeles, California
|Residence||Silver Lake, California|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles
Loyola Marymount University
|Website||Official Assembly Website|
Michael Anthony "Mike" Gatto (born October 19, 1974) is an American public official. In June 2010, after a series of three elections in eight weeks (two Special elections and one Primary), the voters of the 43rd Assembly District elected Gatto to the California State Assembly. At the time of his election, Gatto was the youngest Democrat in the California State Legislature, and the second-youngest overall.
In 2012, a thorough data analysis conducted by the Sacramento Bee newspaper concluded that Mike Gatto was the second-most independent thinking democratic legislator in the entire California State Assembly.
Gatto grew up in the Franklin Hills and Silver Lake neighborhoods of Los Angeles. His father was a public-school teacher, his grandfather a steelworker. Gatto has held down a job every day of his life since his sixteenth birthday, including helping pay for his college education by changing tires at Sears.
In 1996, Gatto graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor's Degree in History. After a series of different jobs, he took positions as Political Director and District Director for United States Congressman Brad Sherman. While working for the Congressman, he put himself through law school at night, graduating magna cum laude from Loyola Law School in 2004. He was recruited out of law school to practice at O’Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles’ oldest law firm. Gatto also served in the administrations of three different Los Angeles Mayors, as President of the El Pueblo (Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority) Commission.
In 2007, Gatto began practicing law at Mayer Brown LLP, helping small- and medium-sized businesses with problems they were having with the government. In 2009, Gatto started teaching English courses at night. As an attorney, Gatto's pro bono work received many accolades, particularly the free assistance he provided to the victims of a mortgage-fraud ring.
The 43rd Assembly District includes all or part of Burbank, Glendale (including part of Montrose), La Crescenta, the Los Angeles communities of Atwater Village, Franklin Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and the San Fernando Valley communities of North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, and Van Nuys.
In January 2010, after the incumbent Assemblyman resigned his position, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled a Special Election to be held on April 13, 2010. Despite being given little chance of victory by Sacramento insiders, Gatto emerged as the highest vote getter, besting two Democrats and a Republican in a then-rare "open" Primary.
On June 8, 2010, Gatto faced the odd situation of having both a Primary and a General/Special Runoff election on the same day. During the campaign, Gatto secured many key endorsements, including the only major newspaper to endorse in the race, the Los Angeles Daily News. The Daily News wrote that Gatto is “fiscally minded and intelligent . . . the kind of legislator California needs.” Gatto won both elections, by wide margins and took the oath of office on June 9, 2010.
Because vacancies in both houses (Assembly and Senate) had left over a million Californians without representation, both the Assembly and the Senate exercised little-known provisions of the Constitution to seat the new members (Gatto and Bill Emmerson) despite the delay in county clerks certifying election results. The Assembly voted unanimously to seat Gatto.
In November 2010, approximately four and a half months after winning the Special Election, Gatto was on the ballot again, for the fourth time in 2010. Gatto prevailed again, garnering 66.2% of the vote, in a district that was 46.93% Democratic.
In the November 2012 General Election, Gatto faced another elected school board member from the biggest city in his district, Glendale. Gatto's 43rd district had also recently been redrawn to be 25% new, and more conservative. Gatto won for the sixth time in two years, beating his opponent 60.2% to 39.8%.
In 2010, Gatto introduced legislation to address serious concerns with runaway pension costs for municipal management. Gatto's bill sought to cap the exposure of conservatively managed cities when profligate (or corrupt) cities offer outlandish salaries for top officials. The bill arose from the 2010 City of Bell salary controversy, where cities like Glendale were forced to pay the approximately $411,000 annual pension costs for its former employee, the police chief of Bell, California, even though Bell had set the police chief's very high salary.
In the October 2010 Special Session, Gatto authored ACA 4, an enhanced version of a Rainy Day Fund (or "savings account") for the State of California. The proposed constitutional amendment would require the Legislature, during years of strong revenues, to follow a strict program for how to spend the money. First, the state would fulfill all obligations to education. Then, it would take up to 10% of General Fund revenue and put it into a savings account, to be used during years where revenue weakened. After that, the state would be mandated to pay down bond debt, easing the burden on future years. Gatto's Rainy Day Fund legislation passed both houses of the Legislature and was approved by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
For the 2011-2012 session, Gatto was named Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California Assembly. In that role, he presided over meetings when the Speaker Pro Tempore could not. He sits on five different committees, including Appropriations; Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media; Water, Parks & Wildlife; Government Organization; and Banking & Finance.
Gatto's 2011 legislative program focuses on good-government legislation and government reform. The hallmark of his legislative package are six bills designed to bring more transparency to election financing, to combat ballot-box budgeting, and to make it harder for special-interest groups to amend the California Constitution. The Economist, a conservative worldwide news magazine based in England, ran a Special Report in April 2011 that concluded that such reforms were critical for the future of the state of California.
In addition to several government and fiscal-reform measures, one of Gatto's bills in 2011 would have required the state to study embedding piezoelectric sensors in state highways, which produce electrical energy simply by the vibrations cars and trucks make as they traverse the pavement.
Gatto’s 2012 legislative program has included bills: to keep utility rates low by allowing utilities to use biofuel; to crack down on lobbyists who improperly try to influence tax assessors; to make sporting events safer by preventing fan violence at stadiums; and measures to lessen the ability of special interests to enshrine spending on pet projects into the California Constitution.  Gatto authored the California Homemade Food Act, to allow small businesses to produce certain food products without falling afoul of county regulations meant for commercial restaurants and bakeries. Gatto was successful in getting his bill signed into law in September 2012.
In August 2012, Gatto was asked to Chair the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The House Speaker stated that Gatto is a “talented legislator” who can gather support from both parties. “It's a position that requires someone who is thoughtful, deliberative and has the respect of the members.” 
Data analyses done by California newspapers have resulted in Gatto emerging on the top on two hot-button issues. In 2010, he was one of two legislators out of 120 in the California legislature who did not introduce any legislation sponsored by a special interest, a practice he has continued in 2011. In 2011, Gatto was listed as just one of three legislators out of 120 who always "show up to work," missing less than 1% (or just 12) votes in all 2010.
In describing Gatto's legislative career, an editorial on NBC Los Angeles noted, "Few people in Sacramento care much about broader reform of California's governing process. . . Mike Gatto is an exception. . . He is virtually alone in offering proposals that are big enough to address the state's big structural problems."
Gatto is married to Danielle Gatto, a former Miss Orange County and summa cum laude graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. They reside in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and have two daughters, one who is two-years old, and one who was born in October 2012.
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