Palmer Republican House Representative Carl Gatto Dies
Carl Gatto dies after battle with prostate cancer
ALASKA - State Representative Carl Gatto (R-Palmer) died Monday morning in a Seattle hospital after being medevaced from Juneau on Friday.
The 74-year-old five-term Republican from Palmer had prostate cancer.
Gatto had been frail and recently suffered a fall outside a Capitol entrance, according to his friend Representative Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), who was with him at the time.
Gruenberg said Gatto had become unable to perform his duties as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, although he still voted in committee and on the house floor.
The house was in session in late morning when Gatto died, passing legislation that he had co-sponsored on texting while driving, as well as the crime of escaping from custody.
House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) stopped the floor session for an announcement from Representative Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su). "It’s with a great deal of sadness that I inform the members of this body, the people of the Valley, where his home was, and the people of Alaska that our friend and colleague, Carl Gatto, Representative Gatto, as I want to remember him, passed away about an hour ago."
"He really was a very good chairman of the judiciary committee,” said Gruenberg. “He always had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a very warm person and very popular with his constituents and I think very popular here with both sides of the aisle."
Gatto is the ninth legislator since statehood to die in office. The most recent was Nome Democrat Richard Foster in 2009.
The governor has ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff tomorrow.
He also will name Gatto's replacement based on three choices submitted by Republicans in that district, if tradition is followed.