By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
About six years ago, Gallant says, she bought a historic house in downtown Mesa and put $30,000 into fixing it up. Then one day, "the City of Mesa Housing Authority knocked at my door and said, 'We can help you with this.' They have special grants, so I said sure. It ended up being the worst experience of my life, because then they owned me.
"I went back to school as a journalism major, and when I did, I had to rent my house out because I couldn't afford $1,000 a month as a student. When they found out that I had done that, they slapped a lien for $25,000 on my house."
Kat adjusts her Godiva-length blond hair, shifts on the couch and continues. She had a 15 percent interest rate on the house and wanted to reduce it, but the City of Mesa told her "flat out they would not subrogate. When that happened, I explained to them that I would lose my house if they wouldn't subrogate. So I hung up the phone with them, and just then a guy walked into my salon and said he was running for judge.
"I said, 'Really? I'm going to run for mayor.' And that's how the whole thing started."
Since then, her campaign has attracted the interest of international media, and Kat has upcoming appearances scheduled on Sally Jessy Raphael and Montel Williams. Which may smack of a cheap publicity ploy--something a few of the other mayoral candidates assert--but Kat says it ain't so.
"Once people hear that I am an intelligent individual, and I have some really good ideas about government, they do take me seriously."
Kat has plans, opinions, visions she relates to me with whistle-stop gusto. There in the back room.
"My thoughts are that we really have to focus on the social issues--homelessness, gangs, problems with children, improved parks and recreation programs--and try and clean up that part of the aspect of it," Kat stresses. "I have a plan that we can clean up this town without costing the taxpayers any money. I have seen this program instituted in other places, and it'll work. The plan is to get buildings, and have the homeless themselves bring them up to code."
(For some reason, this reminds me of a Monty Python line where instructions are given on how to play the flute: Blow in one end and move your fingers up and down the other.)
"My thoughts are that these people do have jobs; they just don't have affordable housing. What we need to do is provide at least a halfway-house environment."
Helping the homeless help themselves, making society a better place without costing taxpayers a dime--aren't these fairly grassroots, conservative views?
"If you really look at it, in so many ways I'm politically incorrect," Kat shoots back. "I think men should have the right to look at a woman, and I think men should have the right to express themselves. I think men have had a bum rap in the last couple of decades--the feminist movement.
"I like to call myself the 'womanist movement.' Get back to being a woman, be proud of it and enjoy it, and so what if a guy looks at you and says, 'Hey, you've got great legs!' How can somebody take offense to that? It's so stupid. And a guy could lose his job for that; to me, that's so bizarre. Let's get down to things that count--let's talk about heart, let's talk about passion, let's talk about the real issues in life.
"I think it's wonderful that women can go into a job and have the same opportunity as men, but it isn't really fair to the white male, is it? The white male is the most discriminated beast out there, he really is."
Hey, that's me!
Kat is all fired up, righteous with conviction, her voice rising above the occasional sighs and groans of a guy getting a massage in the next room. Over on the wall, there's a hand-lettered sign with quotes from Sophocles, Cicero and Harry Truman.
"I never give them hell, I just give them the truth, and they think it is hell," read the words of Harry. I don't know what his views on the tragic condition of the white male would be, but the outspoken president seems to have inspired the forthright Gallant. Was he a role model?
She looks a bit confused as I point at the sign, then says, "No. That was here when we moved in."
If the good people of Mesa see fit to elect Kat, she's determined to work for them, to do their bidding. She will achieve this through the magic of television.
"I'm going to produce a TV show," explains Gallant. "I'll bring in consultants, pro and con, on issues in Mesa, and allow people to call in and tell me what they want. I feel that politicians too often have their own opinions when they go into office, and you hope they'll keep those opinions, then nine times out of ten they don't, and they go off on their own tangent.