The Senate District 36 seat, being vacated by term-limited Robert Adley, is drawing contenders. Earlier this month state Rep. Henry Burns explained why he’d like to move to the Senate to replace Adley.
It’s likely that area voters are aware that Bossier City attorney Ryan Gatti has joined the race for the District 36 seat – his signs are visible all over north Bossier. Today he share’s his reasons for running and how he sees the opportunity to represent the district.
“I’m running for office because as I’ve practiced law in this area for about 15 years, I have seen different issues come up that can be solved at the governmental level. Unfortunately they’re not solved, so our Court system has to step in and do the work of the legislature. When that happens, you have judges who are already overburdened trying to figure out problems and issues facing the citizenry that should be solved in another branch of the government.”
Gatti cited as an example the Louisiana oil and gas industry where issues arose concerning royalty payments and the size and shape of units; there was definitely a dispute between the oil and gas operators and the landowners.
“I sided with the landowners in that, and asked the members of the legislature to develop some safeguards for the landowners because you have somebody who owns a quarter acre of land, they can’t afford to hire an attorney and do that battle. So I saw a creative way to fix that in the legislature…”
Gatti also recalled that in his work as lead counsel for the citizens evacuated from Doyline as a result of the Explo System’s abandoned M-6 propellant, “… We saw a lot of issues come up about just how state contracts are managed and different issues that could have been solved at the legislative branch. It shouldn’t have taken an act of Congress to stop the open burn. And what it took was regular citizens from all over Doyline getting together to stop the open burn… What we saw is a situation where there was a lack of leadership that turned into a grassroots effort that shut this down.”
Gatti said that experience gave him “a lot of faith and hope in the people that I’ll be representing – that I can call on them and say ‘hey, I’ve got an issue; can we form some committees and build some coalitions. Is there something y’all see that I don’t see …’”
His lack of leadership concern was also directed to the last seven or eight years of legislative budget making and lawmakers’ handling of the Common Core issue.
“You know, we scream at Congress as Republicans for passing Obamacare and what they said: ‘we have to pass it so we’ll know what’s in it.’ And that’s really what happened with Common Core … So I say it’s wrong for anybody who calls himself a member of the Legislature to pass a law they haven’t read or to implement a program or stand silently by while someone implements a program that’s going to directly harm every family who has a mom, dad or grandparent who’s trying to raise a child in the public school system.”
Gatti has much praise for teachers and credits them, second only to his parents, with helping form “most of the milestones and accomplishments” he’s reached in his life.
And he promises open lines of communication with them – saying, “I expect them to call my cell phone … I’ll talk directly to any teacher that wants to text me, call me, e-mail me or talk to my wife.”
As far as the state budget, Gatti said, “If you spend more than you take in, you’re going to go broke … you don’t have to hire an accountant to learn that. We’ve gotten really good at becoming a debtor state; we need to become a creditor state.”
Looking back at the last legislative session, Gatti said that most folks recognized that “this can was going to be kicked again,” but he believes that next year’s budget work will present opportunities for creative solutions.
“As a lawyer, I’ve stood up for people’s rights … It comes easy to me to do battle when someone is trying to take away the rights of one of my clients. I do it with ethics. I do it with efficiency. And I do it with my client’s best interest at heart. But I always do it with respect for the other party,” Gatti said.
“And in the legislature, I will continue to do the same thing. I will build coalitions. I don’t care what background someone has, how much money they have, what color they are, or what letter is by their name. I will sit down with them because as Christian men and women, we have basic, fundamental rights that we all agree on.”
Gatti and wife Susan have been married for 19 years; they have four daughters.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org