After months of campaigning and a contentious primary election, Democrat Mike Gatto and Republican Sunder Ramani will face off in a special election Tuesday for the 43rd Assembly District.
The winner will serve the district, which represents Glendale, Burbank and parts of Los Angeles, until the end of the current legislative session in November.
Tuesday also serves as the primary election for the Nov. 2 election for a full two-year term that begins next year.
The seat has been vacant since January, when Paul Krekorian left to serve on the Los Angeles City Council, leaving state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) as the area's sole representative in Sacramento.
"I think we definitely need to get someone up there," said Gatto, an attorney and former district director for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).
On Friday, both candidates said they plan to spend the final days leading up to the Tuesday election urging voters to go to the polls.
"In the last several days, I'm focusing on talking to as many voters as possible and sharing with them my ideas," Gatto said.
Ramani, a small-business owner, said he is optimistic heading into the election, despite the district's historic Democratic bent.
"We are very enthusiastic, very excited about our positioning as we are approaching the Tuesday election," he said. "I think we will be redefining this area, that . . . . has had one type of representation for a long time."
In April's special primary election, Gatto was the top vote-getter out of a field of three Democrats, but did not meet the 50% threshold needed to win the seat outright. He and Ramani, who ran unopposed on the Republican ticket, each took close to 32% of the total vote.
Democrats Nayiri Nahabedian, a Glendale Unified school board member and Gatto's main Democratic rival, and Armenian television host Chahe Keuroghelian later dropped out of the race.
Gatto spent triple the amount of campaign funds as Ramani leading up to the April election, but Ramani has since ramped up his spending, according to candidate financial reports filed with the state. Between Jan. 1 and May 22, Ramani spent $222,949 compared with Gatto's $347,366.
Regardless of its outcome, Tuesday's election will not mark the end of a complex campaign cycle that stakeholders say has contributed to confusion and voter fatigue.
Voters in the 43rd Assembly District will cast two votes for the same seat on Tuesday — one for the runoff election and another for a primary ahead of the Nov. 2 general election. Gatto and Ramani are candidates in both races.
Whoever wins on Tuesday will run as the incumbent in November's election for a full two-year term.
"I'm actually just winded in explaining this to people," Ramani said. "There is so much confusion."
Campaign reps say it didn't help matters when a small percentage of residents last month were mailed up to 1,100 Democratic voter guides that erroneously listed candidates in the same spots as votes for or against a controversial Los Angeles parcel tax.
Los Angeles County election officials said they would mail new guides to the affected residents. Representatives for the county registrar could not be reached for comment Friday.
For more election information, or polling locations, visit www.lavote.netor call (800) 815-2666.