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‘It’s a true passion of mine to serve’: Meet the mayor’s rep in La Jolla, Matt Griffith

Matt Griffith is San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria's community representative in City Council District 1, which includes La Jolla.
(Courtesy)

In the early days of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s administration, his City Council District 1 community representative, Matt Griffith, was on the phone with leaders of La Jolla’s community planning groups to establish connections.

Griffith also serves as a community liaison for council Districts 4 and 7 and oversees issues pertaining to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) constituents, public safety and people older than 65. But having spent some years of his youth in La Jolla, Griffith wants to make sure the community has a voice and an ear in the mayor’s office, he said.

“It’s a true passion of mine to serve, and this role has allowed me to be myself as someone that cares about my fellow citizen,” he said. “Getting to be back in the community virtually has been great, and I’m excited to, post-COVID, actually be in the community and be able to speak to these leaders in person and see the areas they care about, the history of these places.”

An immediate job for Griffith is relaying information to the senior community as San Diego County enters its next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes those 65 and older. “Seniors are wondering, ‘When can I get the vaccine? Where can I get the vaccine? How can I get the vaccine?’ ... I want to provide that information,” he said.

Griffith said he has roots in public service and that he was born with an interest in helping people.

“I come from a family that is public service-oriented,” he said. “My father spent 35 years in public service with the city of San Diego and in Trinidad and Tobago, which is where he is from. He worked for the government out of high school for four years to save up money to come to the United States. My mother is an educator and the executive director of The Preuss School at UC San Diego and has been in education for 25 years. My grandmother was also the first African American to sign a teaching contract in the city of Oceanside. So I feel like it’s in my blood. I always knew what public service was.”

He said he considers it a “blessing” that he is in a position to serve multiple communities in San Diego.

Partially educated in La Jolla, Griffith went to The Bishop’s School for seventh and eighth grades before transferring to San Diego’s Lincoln High School for its football program.

“I thought I was going to go to the NFL,” he joked. He then went to San Diego Mesa College and San Diego State University.

During his middle school years, because his family lived in the South Bay and the commute to La Jolla was long, “I was pretty much in The Village all day” he said. “I would finish school, go to the tennis shop behind the campus, get a Snickers bar, walk up to the Rec Center and hang out there to do my homework and go to the beach. My good friends lived not far from campus, so I would hang out with them on the weekends.”

While at Bishop’s, he was one of about eight students of color, he said. “It was a little difficult being a young Black man trying to navigate puberty, school and sports. But having amazing friends helped,” he said. “The education was amazing. … I appreciate the time I had there because it calculated my desire to advance my education.”

His love for the outdoors and natural resources cultivated while attending school by the sea hasn’t dwindled. When he’s not working and the world isn’t in the midst of a pandemic, he likes to be outdoors whenever possible, he said.

“I’ve been indoors for almost a year now, so I miss the hikes of Torrey Pines and golfing,” he said. “And I love spending time with my family. I’m a big foodie, and there are lots of places I love to eat. I love shopping, I love clothes and I have a wife and 9-month-old daughter to shop for.”

He said he looks forward to getting to know the nuances of La Jolla.

“I love meeting people and talking to people, so no issue is too big or too small to contact me about,” he said. “Call me, email me, text me. I’m 100 percent accessible.”

While working from home, Griffith can be reached via email at griffithm@sandiego.gov. ◆