Rebecca Kelley

Thu September 25, 2014 7:08pm

Joe Little "Papa Bear"

While Cheryl Cox is our mayor, Joe Little has become known as the “Papa Bear” of Chula Vista. Whether you know Joe personally or he’s touched your heart through a story he did, we’ve all come to realize that “no one messes with Joe Little’s city.” 
Joe has called Chula Vista his home since 2002. “I chose Chula Vista because it made sense at the time. It was affordable, clean and close to work. I started covering the South Bay for 10News in 2007 and haven’t looked back,” he said.
Joe’s not a typical 10News reporter. He’s a multimedia journalist.  “An MMJ is someone who can do it all. Back in ’07, 10News wanted a reporter who could shoot, write and edit all of their own stories. That was me! I love being a one-man-band. I love what I do. One of the most memorable stories I ever did was blowing up the hideous South Bay Power Plant. I followed that debacle for years. I rooted against it as a resident. I rooted openly against it as a reporter. I climbed to the top of it before it went away. And I demanded to work an early morning weekend shift just so I could lead the live coverage of its implosion. I will always remember that awesome feeling in my chest. I could feel the sound waves rattle against it.”
Working for a nonprofit, I see firsthand how Joe’s support and commitment makes our community stronger.  “I’m not a rich guy, so I like to contribute as much of my time as I can. I try to emcee events whenever possible. I’ve worked with South Bay Community Services, the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation, the South Bay Family YMCA, Southwestern College, city of National City, city of Chula Vista, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad and local schools.”
Having lived in the same neighborhood as Joe, I always saw him around town.  “Camarena Elementary is my favorite school because it’s new, it’s spectacular, the faculty is great, oh, and my boys go there. The carnitas burrito at the El Michoacano Taco Shop in Windingwalk is my favorite meal. My favorite pastime is watching my boys play in the Eastlake Little League, AYSO soccer or YMCA flag football league. I love the view of the mountains to the east. I love running into firefighters at Costco and my Chula Vista Police Department on the street.”
Joe Little stands 6 foot 4 and weighs 250 pounds, so seeing this former Division 1 George Mason University basketball player squeeze into the 10News Prius can be amusing at times. “First off, the 10News Prius is a legendary vehicle. It is the king of the road. There is none higher. With that said, I’d love to have a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a big dog hanging out the window and his tongue flopping in the breeze. Of course ... it would be the 10News Jeep.”
While Joe Little has been half way around the world to the Middle East, he has not been to the other side of Otay Lakes. “I want to take the leap. I want to hit up Skydive San Diego and be one of those cats flying out of a plane above Otay Lakes. I’m terrified though. It’s on my bucket list.”
Rebecca Kelley is South County regional director of marketing, media and community relations at South Bay YMCA.