Guest commentary: As new La Jolla Town Council president, I pledge to expand its outreach and effectiveness

James Rudolph is the new president of the La Jolla Town Council.

My parents moved to La Jolla in 1958. I attended La Jolla Elementary, Stella Maris Academy, All Hallows Academy, Muirlands and finally La Jolla High School.

This is where my children live. And it’s where my family’s restaurant, Harry’s Coffee Shop, has been located since 1960. In other words, La Jolla is home — for me, my children and, perhaps one day, my grandchildren.

I provide this level of personal detail for two main reasons. First, I want it known how much I love La Jolla and how deeply and emotionally invested I am in its success. Second, I believe my background ensures, if not guarantees, my all-out dedication and commitment to my new role as president of the La Jolla Town Council.

LJTC was chartered in 1950 by Roger Revelle, whose contributions to the growth and sophistication of UC San Diego and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography are legendary. The point then was to act as a community association serving the residents and businesses of La Jolla. That purpose still guides LJTC to this day.

With regard to residents, LJTC acts in many ways as a town hall where all can gather and air their questions and concerns. For example, LJTC has hosted events on short-term vacation rentals, sea lions at The Cove, homelessness and traffic. And for businesses, LJTC promotes a healthy and ever-expanding business environment by, among other things, providing referrals and information for tourists, most recently with its “La Jolla Link” featuring restaurants and businesses open during COVID.

Again, these two elements are central and lasting features of LJTC’s raison d'etre, and this is something I’ll steadfastly maintain.

But there are other features whose growth and evolution I’d like to encourage. First, as LJTC continues its metamorphosis from an entirely in-person, paper-driven entity into something more modern, I’d like to create a robust social media presence. We have a website and a Facebook account, of course, but my goal is to increase outreach through Instagram and Nextdoor as well. Instagram is used by countless young people, and I think it’s important to capture that audience. And Nextdoor is, by and large, used by adults who take an active interest in their communities. Combining these two cohorts should drive interest in what we do and make it more relevant.

Second, I will focus on increasing not only interest but actual membership numbers as well. Obviously, this factor is related to my first goal, because if we highlight the relevance of what we do, we should presumably be able to convince people that membership is a two-way street with benefits for LJTC and the community as a whole. Current council sponsors are featured on the LJTC website and can be featured in the monthly newsletter that reaches thousands. The La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival, whose existence is due in large part to support from LJTC, features many local businesses and has been a source of entertainment for many decades.

Third, LJTC, as a nonpartisan entity, has a chance to be the place where all can come and discuss any relevant political topic without fear of being shouted down or sidelined. This fact is important, and I’d like to reassure people (if there is any doubt) that all are welcome to join and participate. LJTC has hosted candidate forums and working groups for topics of particular concern.

Fourth, I’d like to increase LJTC’s outreach and effectiveness vis-à-vis local officials. There is at times a feeling that recommendations are ignored or downplayed. This should change. Our elected officials must understand that they work for us and thus have an obligation to collaborate with the communities that supported them. I have relationships with local officials and will ensure that they understand the importance of LJTC as an advisory and representative body.

La Jolla is a treasure. We’re fortunate to live and work here. But like anything of value, it needs constant upkeep and attention. LJTC has for decades been a central part of what makes La Jolla unique. My predecessors have worked diligently to keep La Jolla residents and business owners informed and updated. I promise to do the same. “Almost all government,” Sen. John Hickenlooper has said, “starts at a very local level at some point.” I couldn’t agree more, so I pledge to honor this proud democratic tradition.

I welcome your questions, comments, concerns and — above all else — your participation. We can’t do this without you.

James Rudolph is president of the La Jolla Town Council.