House lawmakers stood in a moment of silence on Tuesday for their late colleague Carl Gatto, who died earlier in the day in Seattle.
Gatto, 74, was flown to Seattle on Friday. Already in treatment for prostate cancer, Gatto suffered kidney failure as well.
A former firefighter and teacher, the Palmer Republican enjoyed enduring popularity in his Valley House District 13, winning five straight elections and serving for almost 10 years. A dependable member of the House majority caucus, Gatto wasn't a lockstep lawmaker. He was critical of major institutions like Exxon/Mobil, over the Point Thomson lease disputes with the state, and the Transportation Security Administration for what he called unnecessary and intrusive airport screening.
He also adopted some causes quickly lost in Alaska, like a law to ban the use of Islamic Sharia law here and a brief attempt to curtail the rights of public unions.
He backed drug testing for public assistance recipients, and criticized the "licensing and documentation fees" by which car dealerships dug deeper into buyers' pockets.
Carl Gatto gave a lifetime of public service. We join his House colleagues in our thoughts and prayers for his family and many friends.