Michael Lazzara has a passion for his community, for his family and for his business. He is the successful operator of a chain of restaurants and a sign company and is a valued leader for the City of Jacksonville representing the interests of the City in several state and focused organizations. Most recently, he was elected as the President of the NC League of Municipalities and as a Coastal Carolina Community College trustee. Born in Palermo, Sicily, Michael grew up in Chicago and enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He served with distinction until his release from active duty including service aboard Camp Lejeune. He stayed in the area and gained valuable experiences working for others. Realizing a dream shared with his wife Catarina whom he met working in a restaurant, they opened Michaelangelo’s Pizza. It led to the creation of Lazzara’s, a casual Italian restaurant with several locations. A consistent entrepreneur, he pursued his passion for graphic design and purchased a small sign company, Vital Signs and has expanded into a 10,000 square foot sign manufacturing facility.
For his successful business efforts and community contributions, he was recognized as the Small Business Person of the Year for 2003. In 2008, he was given a lifetime achievement award, the Civic Honor, by the Chamber of Commerce for his diversity of contributions to the improvement of his community. In 2005 he was elected to the Jacksonville City Council and currently serves as the Mayor Pro Tem. Advancing transportation interests, he helped to organize and now leads an organization that combines the Metropolitan Planning Organizations with the Regional Planning Organizations in this area. He served as the Chairman of the Transportation Advisory Committee for the Jacksonville metro area and has worked with legislators in creating a new formula for project funding.
Michael Lazzara was an organizer for the Military Host Cities group which provides a voice for the unique communities that host the military in North Carolina. He provides leadership for this group and has advanced military related issues before the General Assembly. The Mayor Pro Tem was unanimously selected by the City Council to hold a seat on the Onslow Water and Sewer Authority. As such, he has advanced collaborative and cooperative efforts that benefit the ratepayers of ONWASA as well as the City. Michael Lazzara was selected by the Council to lead the Jacksonville Tourism Development Authority as chairman and has provided strategic visioning to the work of the Authority. Michael is very involved in the community. As a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, he has served as Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. His service on the Military Affairs Committee included working fish fry events for the young Marines and sailors, in whose company he might have been years earlier as a Marine.
He has been a strategic member of the Jacksonville-Onslow Sports Commission Board of Directors achieving the status of Director Emeritus. Michael Lazzara has represented economic development interests serving on the Board of Directors for Bettering Our Local Downtown and has been active in other economic development activities in the community.
He and his wife have two sons who have been active in the family business. Michael and Anthony were very active in competitive sports from their youth to their college years. The competitive nature of his family helped lead to his significant involvement in the advancement of competitive soccer in the community. Michael Lazzara served as a coach and team manager for the Jacksonville Area Soccer Association and the Onslow Classic Soccer Association. He worked with the Onslow County Commissioners to get 52 acres of land given to the Onslow Classic Soccer Association where he led the effort to have it developed into a major soccer complex.
His work thus far can be best summarized by former Coastal Carolina Community College President Dr. Ron Lingle with whom Michael Lazzara has served on many committees.