Our Town: Mayor not planning immediate trip to moon
Editor’s note: This is the first in the Tribune’s new “Our Town” series, which will feature question-and-answer profiles of South Shore residents.
Though most residents know Kathay Lovell as mayor of South Lake Tahoe, she hasn’t always served on the city council.
For 20 years, she worked in telecommunications, and also once operated a kennel where she raised up to 22 Belgian sheepdogs at a time.
In 2002, voters elected the 55-year-old (whose birthday was on Thanksgiving Day) to the city council, where she served as mayor. She currently is in her second term.
Lovell was born in Sacramento and has lived in South Lake Tahoe since 1960.
Her husband and her best friend are especially important to Lovell. She married Les Lovell, now a lieutenant in the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, in 1983, and she has known her best friend, Marion Daniels, for 25 years.
Les and Marion did their best to guess how Kathay would answer the Tribune’s questions.
Q: What is most important in Kathay’s life?
Les: “Her family and friends. She’s very dedicated to her kids and grandkids.”
Marion: “Her family.”
Kathay: “My family. My grandkids live five minutes away. It’s awesome. They are a very integral part of our lives. My husband and I value our time with our grandkids. We spend a lot of time with them. We take walks; we go to the movies. My husband is the one who takes them fishing, hiking and boating. I’m along for the ride. What I like to do with the boys is cook together.”
Q: If Kathay weren’t mayor, what other profession would she choose?
Les: “Communications. It used to be her passion, and I think she’d still like to be in it.”
Marion: “Nothing. It fits her so well. She’s such a people person. This is the best profession for her.”
Kathay: “I wouldn’t. It’s absolutely the best. Giving back is the best. It has its challenges, but nothing worthwhile doesn’t have its challenges. You know that you’re making a positive difference, and that’s rewarding. I feel very fortunate at this point in my life that I am doing this, because my grandchildren and my children were there when I was sworn in as council member twice. They were part of my campaign committee. My grandchildren were there when I was elected mayor on both occasions, and I hope this sets an example for them to take on leadership.”
Q: Who is Kathay’s personal inspiration?
Les: “Her dad. There’s no doubt about that. No one can compare to her father.”
Marion: “Her parents.”
Kathay: “Certainly my father was my greatest personal inspiration. He was afflicted with polio, and I never knew he was disabled. I never thought of him as being disabled. Neither did my children. He worked two jobs and supported his family, and he was a great inspiration to me. He taught me to never say, “I can’t.” I’ve tried to instill that in my children and grandchildren. To say you can’t means you’ve given up.”
Q: Who is Kathay’s global inspiration?
Les: “I don’t know. It’s a hard question. If it were in the past, I’d suspect JFK and some others. It’s really her grandkids that make her go ’round.”
Marion: “I just don’t know.”
Kathay: “Oprah (Winfrey)’s always been a woman I truly admire. She’s an inspiration for women and for everyone. It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do to help others. I admire that. I try to do that in my own life in ways that I can.”
Q: What is Kathay’s favorite food?
Les: “Italian. No doubt about that. It’s in her ancestry.”
Marion: “Gnocchi. You should ask her to make you some.”
Kathay: “Anything Italian. I’m Yugoslavian, and I make what my grandkids call ‘Nunny’s special sauce.’ It cooks for a minimum of 10 hours. My mother and my grandmother always made gnocchi with the sauce. My children like it, but grandchildren don’t – they’ve adapted to it with pasta. Yugoslavian food is very similar to Italian food.”
Q: What book is Kathay currently reading?
Les: “Nothing for leisure. It has to be some sort of government text material on a council session.”
Marion: “I’d be amazed if she had time to read.”
Kathay: “My city council packet. Literally. I read them three times, and I learned from Judy Brown, former council member, former mayor, that I preview it first, and then I read it, make notes and then I re-read it. It’s a three-step process for me.”
Q: What is Kathay’s favorite television show?
Les: “All the drama shows like ‘Life,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Boston Legal.’ They have to have humor and drama.”
Marion: “I don’t watch TV, so I have no idea.”
Kathay: “That new one called ‘Life.’ It’s about a police officer who was falsely imprisoned for murder. When he got out, part of the deal he made in his settlement was to go back to the department. He’s still trying to solve the case he was accused of. … And I love ‘Boston Legal.’ It’s another one that has the humor and the drama.”
Q: What is Kathay’s favorite song?
Les: “‘Imagine’ is her favorite song.”
Marion: “Anything from the ’80s, I suspect.”
Kathay: “Moody Blues’ ‘Tuesday Afternoon,’ and (John Lennon’s) ‘Imagine.’ They are two of my most-favorite songs and artists. I can’t choose between the two, because you have to have more than one sometimes.”
Q: If she had the choice, would Kathay go to the moon or be governor of California?
Les: “Governor of California. She loves politics and hates to fly. Getting her on a spacecraft would be impossible.”
Marion: “Governor, because it fits her well. If she goes to the moon, it’s about her. She’s about helping the community. She wouldn’t pass up that chance.”
Kathay: “Governor. No doubt. I don’t like to fly. I always watch the shuttle liftoffs, and I always think they have to have nerves of steel to be able to do that. I have a lot of admiration for them. I love politics now.”
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