Gatto, Ramani speak out

Candidates who've battled at the polls three times over the last nine months hit the final turn with two side-by-side appearances in Burbank this week.

43rd District Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) and Republican rival Sunder Ramani spoke at a League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank forum Wednesday night, and then at the Burbank Assn. of Realtors Thursday morning.

Gatto touted his work for financial reform during his four months in office representing Glendale, Burbank and parts of Los Angeles. Ramani emphasized his community roots and business background.

Ramani said he has served on more than 40 local boards over the years, including as president of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce and as a founder of the Burbank Boys & Girls Club.

"I've spent a lifetime giving and caring for the community where I have lived," Ramani said Wednesday night.

He lambasted Sacramento lawmakers for being out of touch with the business community. Politics, he told the Realtors, "is the only career I know where you can have no expertise except the ability to get elected."

The economy needs to be the priority, he said Wednesday.

"Get people back working. That's Job 1," Ramani said.

Gatto said that since winning a special election in June he has focused on the long-term financial stability of the state. The state has run in the black 11 of the last 15 years, he said at the League of Women Voters forum at Burbank City Hall, where there was an overflow crowd.

"During all that time, we did not put a penny of that revenue away," he said.

Gatto co-wrote a measure, signed into law this month, that enhances the state's rainy-day fund, requiring that unexpected revenue go to fully fund schools, then to service debt or be set aside for a deficit year.

Ramani and Gatto staked out similar positions on two related bills that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. Proposition 20 would expand the role of a legislative redistricting commission composed of citizens, while Proposition 27 would return the job of redistricting to lawmakers.

"We can't allow [politicians] to draw the lines again," Ramani said Wednesday. Gatto agreed.

But they differed on other ballot measures.

Gatto supports Proposition 25, which would allow lawmakers to pass a budget with a simple majority, as opposed to the current two-thirds majority rule. Ramani opposes the measure.

The candidates also disagree on Proposition 23, which would suspend implementation of a 2006 law increasing the state's reliance on alternative energy sources. The measure is partly funded by two Texas oil companies.

"I think this is one of the nastiest canards we've faced in the state for a long time," Gatto said.

Ramani said the 2006 law would hurt manufacturers and transportation companies forced to invest in new technologies or upgrades in a challenging economy. He supports Proposition 23.

"It's nice to have noble goals," he said. "But you can't eat noble goals."

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