Interview - Amy Inouye

Interview: Amy Inouye, Media Director for Gary Leonard, Candidate for Governor of California: 1st September 2003

Media Man Australia continues to cover the race for governorship of California.

We interview Amy Inouye, media director for Gary leonard.

Gary is an interesting and unquite candiate. When he's not running for governor, he's a professional photograher, photo journalist and other variations of such.

What's your background?

Freelance photojournalist, anything in Los Angeles--Gary's work has been featured in a book on the LA punk scene in the 1980s (Make the Music Go Bang), and he's had a photo-column called “Take My Picture Gary Leonard” in alternative newsweeklies in LA for something like ten years. It's a photo each week of Gary's choosing--everything from homeless people to ribbon cuttings to parades and politicians, all with his ironic but loving eye for local scenes.

What unique advantages does your photography and journalism trade bring to the party?

Gary is experiencing the campaign from both sides of the fence--he's photographing as many campaign events as possible (Gray Davis at a labor rally, Arnold at the county registrar), and then doing his own
interviews in which he is usually photographing the interviewer during the interview. He's told me that he's really learned a lot already about how politics work (it's harder than you think, and takes a lot of

What positive contributions have you made to California, and what do you have planned, should you be awarded the top job?

Gary loves California (especially Los Angeles) and his whole career has been as a local booster--he really highlights LA people. He is really a democratic thinker--which is to say, to him, everyone is incredibly equal--from the mayor to the punk to the homeless guy--he treats everyone with respect and humanity.

Does being a photographer and journalist give you an "unfair" advantage?

No--no matter how many political events he's covered, it hardly prepared him for what being a candidate would be. As a journalist, you're part of the audience really, and as a candidate, you're in the spotlight--photographers and journalists are much more used to being in the background.

Have you caught on film or audio, any of the other candidates doing the wrong thing?

As a photojournalist, you do catch people off-camera--some are a bit rude, but I haven't heard anything other than that about some of the other candidates (although I know he does he have a past history with
Angelyne that has gotten a little testy).

How has the internet changed the landscape of:

a. The California election?
b. Politics in general?
c. The media landscape and free thinking, getting away from media been "spoon fed" to the public?
d. Any other ways you care to comment on?


What are California's greatest problems?

A climate that would create this recall in the first place. Infrastructure, environment, education. Not enough emphasis on the arts, taxes, a populace with entitlement issues, and a lot more. On the
other hand, it's truly a great place to live.

What sort of voters do you think you attract?

Gary's parents say they're voting for him. He does have a fan base, so maybe them. Other than that, it would be really regular people who see a sincere, regular person with very typical problems and views--and they may identify with him. Gary is smart enough to know that he'd need a fantastic support structure to start solving any problems. Also, as a non-politician, he believes in the idea that if you behaved like a
mature adult and put your mind to solving problems rather than jockeying for position, that something good might get done. In any case, forward motion of any kind is better than filibustering.

What program would you implement for the homeless and street kids?

No details available--it's far too complex--but something has to be done, and we'd rather see any small steps implemented immediately and build on it. Feed the kids, more porta-pottys, counseling--anything--it's a growing, major problem.

What's your views on:

a. Abortion - support
b. Gay Marriage - support
c. Political donations - have to be limited; we really need campaign finance reform not just in California but in the US.

How did you muster the support of Studio City Sun newspaper?

Good question--I'm going to have to ask him--

What's the deal with The League of Women Voters and Friends of the Triforium?

League of Women Voters has web pages available for all the candidates; they do not endorse candidates.

Friends of the Triforium is a small preservationist group that Gary is part of who are supporting him publicly.

What's your motto?

This is tough--it changes daily--sometimes it's something like “I just want to laugh” to “the only candidate who is focused on the job.” Mostly it's “Take my picture Gary Leonard” or for purposes of the
recall, “Take my picture Governor Leonard.”

What motivates you?

Trying not to miss the once-in-a-lifetime photo op.

Why did you write Symphony in Steel?

The book is a chronicle of the construction of Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new home of the LA Philharmonic in downtown LA, designed by Frank Gehry.

Gary has photographed it since its initial groundbreaking 11 years ago. It will open in mid-October. Gary's book will be available in early October. It has been a labor of love--Gary spends a lot of his time downtown and this is an important new addition to the cultural and physical landscape of LA. Gary's point of view includes not only the usual (skeleton of the building, groundbreaking ceremony w/ local politicians, ironworkers, Frank Gehry touring the site, but also the porta-potty delivery guy and tourists shooting the building).

Who were your mentors from a life and professional perspective?

Good question--I'm going to have to ask him--

What will you do relax when the election is finally over?

Back to work, concentrating on publicizing the book, catching up on stuff. Spending time with his daughter, Xiu Ling.


Editors note: An inside look at the life of a photo journalist / candadate. We look forward to the updates with this unique invividal.


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