Joe LaCava has been named the first Honorary Mayor of La Jolla by the La Jolla Town Council. The announcement was made during the Feb. 11 meeting at the Rec Center, as Town Council president Steve Haskins called LaCava “the one person in La Jolla this year who eminently qualifies” for the recognition.
This is the first time in the history of La Jolla, that a citizen was named “Honorary Mayor.” Haskins said it is a tradition carried out by other town councils that La Jolla thought would be a great way to recognize deserving community activists.
“The title ‘Honorary Mayor of La Jolla, 2016’ is bestowed by the Town Council upon a La Jollan who exemplifies a personal commitment to our community and its people, who operates with integrity in all interactions, and who has demonstrated the ability to work with others of all backgrounds and points of view, not for their own personal benefit, but the benefit of the community as a whole,” he said, before naming LaCava — who coyly insisted he knew nothing about the title he was about to receive.
Haskins went on to explain that LaCava is a native San Diegan, who graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in civil engineering, and who has used his career skills to provide creative problem solving on complex community projects. “Joe has worked as a community leader for about a decade to improve the city planning process and increase citizen participation,” he said. “He was re-elected for the third time as chair of San Diego Community Planners Committee, where 42 planning groups come together to discuss citywide issues. As chair, he was instrumental in securing annual funding for planning groups and rewriting council policy to acknowledge the planning group’s role in all parts of their communities. Joe has served on 26 committees and boards, where he has either been appointed by the city or elected by his peers.”
LaCava has lived in Bird Rock for 30 years with his wife, Lorene, a kindergarten teacher at Bird Rock Elemetary School and two daughters.
Receiving a plaque of recognition, LaCava said to a standing ovation, “I’m glad I dropped out of the other race, because this is so much cooler!” referencing his brief candidacy for San Diego City Council District 1. “If you feel like I deserve this, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of so many other La Jollans. I’ve only been doing this for 10-12 years but it feels like a wonderful lifetime.
“When I began (community activism), I came in with a very specific reason. I had no agenda, I just wanted to help people get good things done. I saw a lot of people who were frustrated because they didn’t know how City Hall worked and they didn’t have the right information at their disposal. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to help people so they could advance their ideas based on their merits.
“I thank the Town Council for this honor.”
Further, he encouraged those in attendance to follow in his footsteps and participate in the community advisory process. “For those who have not stepped up and have been thinking about it, now is a great time. We have a lot we need to do … and we’re only going to get there if we collaborate and work together. City Hall is ready to work with La Jolla, when La Jolla figures out what it wants to do and is in agreement.”
Community member Melinda Merryweather thanked LaCava for being a “teacher” and a “leader.”
La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee Janie Emerson commented that he taught and mentored so many residents who have moved into other planning areas. “That enriches the community in an exponential way,” she said.
Kiwanis Club of La Jolla president Henry Chiu said LaCava has “done the community a great service and showed us how to get involved in civics.”
LJCPA member Jim Fitzgerald called LaCava “thoughtful, dedicated and extremely knowledgeable and an asset to the community.”
In other La Jolla Town Council news
La Jolla Town Council voted to support plans for the 59th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival, slated for Dec. 4 throughout the Village of La Jolla.
La Jolla Town Council trustee Lawrence Zynda announced he was filing papers to run for Mayor of San Diego. “If I survive the primary for the mayor-ship, I will depend on the voters to make the decision.”
— La Jolla Town Council meets 5 p.m. second Thursdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St., La Jolla. lajollatowncouncil.org
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