Donaldsonville native Joe Esquivel, former Lakewood, Calif., mayor and council member, dies at 89

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville Chief
Donaldsonville native Joe Esquivel served on the Lakewood City Council for a total of 21 years, from 1990 to 2011. He served five terms as mayor.

Donaldsonville native Joe Esquivel, who served on the Lakewood, Calif., city council for 21 years and served five terms as mayor, died Aug. 25 at the age of 89.

The City of Lakewood is located in Los Angeles County and is one of 86 contract cities in southern California. Such cities contract for the provision of one or more municipal services. Esquivel also served as president of the California Contract Cities Association from 2001-2002.

He was a member of the city council from 1990 to 2011, according to a city announcement.

Prior to his election to the council, Esquivel was a member of Lakewood's Recreation and Community Services Commission for 18 years. He had been a Lakewood Youth Sports volunteer coach for 13 years, according to the city website.

He was active in many community groups and causes, including the Lakewood Jaycees, Lakewood Family YMCA, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, Lakewood Pan American Association, Lakewood Regional Medical Center board of directors, St. Pancratius Church, Meals on Wheels, and the Rotary Club of Lakewood, where he served as the coordinator of the annual Project Shepherd assistance program for families in need.

Joe Esquivel, right, is shown with Wayne Piercy while helping with Project Shepherd in 2016.

“Joe was beloved by thousands of Lakewood residents for his friendliness, jovial personality, and decades of service to the Lakewood community,” stated Mayor Steve Croft. 

"Joe will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him on the City Council and by so many residents who appreciated all that he did for Lakewood," Croft added.

His major accomplishments in the 1990s and 2000s included:

  • Creating a team of deputy sheriffs to work with residents and merchants to target crime hotspots;
  • Prevented the imposition of federal flood insurance on city properties by advocating for the completion of the Los Angeles River Flood Protection Restoration Project;
  • Helped modernize the city's system of water wells, water mains, and storage facilities;
  • Started 24/7 access to services through the early adoption of a city website.
Joe Esquivel graduated from Donaldsonville High School. This 1954 photo shows Coach Floyd Boutte, Keith Falcon, Theodore Martinez, Joe Esquivel, Joe Acosta, Kent Morris, Tony Martinez, and Emile Marcello.

After growing up in Donaldsonville, Esquivel shipped off to serve in the Navy. Upon being discharged in Long Beach, California, he and his wife Pat decided to settle in Lakewood in 1963.

Esquivel worked for the American-National Can Company in nearby Carson, California for 35 years. He served in the leadership of the United Steelworkers local district 39.

He was predeceased by his wife Pat and is survived by his children Debbie, Diane, and Doug, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

A memorial service has been planned for Sept. 17.

The City of Lakewood shared an In Memoriam video, which included clips of Esquivel from a past interview.