Martinez Ready to Fight New Fires
Around 9:30pm on May 13, with nearly 75% of city precincts already reporting that City Council Place 2 candidate Mike Martinez had secured well over 50% of the citywide vote, Martinez still wasn't ready to declare victory. He just couldn't do it yet in part, perhaps, because the affable and outspoken Martinez, head of the Austin Association of Professional Firefighters, was slightly shell-shocked. It's not that he didn't think he would beat out candidate Eliza May, head of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to take over the seat being vacated by Raul Alvarez. No, it's just that the climax of the months-long campaign with all the forums to attend, phone banks to man, and fliers to distribute hadn't exactly sunk in yet. (In the end, Martinez earned slightly less than 57% of the vote, while May secured just over 26% and Libertarian Wes Benedict picked up just over 17%.) "I'm humbled," Martinez said, standing outside his e-night party at Azul. "I look at all the people, some legendary, who've served on the council, and I understand that I am about to assume a huge responsibility."
Indeed, Martinez has been a savvy and outspoken advocate while serving as firefighters' union president including spearheading the union's successful bid to win collective bargaining rights in contract negotiations honing skills that will likely serve him well as he further navigates City Hall's power structure. First up on the agenda, of course, will be tackling the city budget and bond package the two largest items looming on the summer radar. "I've got to get up to speed on those right away," he says. "But I feel like I've got a good running start and will be ready to get in there and ask some questions, get things done and move on." Beyond that, Martinez says he has a host of ideas he's been working on that he'd like to explore further including the feasibility of converting the city's fleet of fire apparatus to run on bio-diesel. "Its something that certainly would fit in well with where the city would like to go," he says.
Nonetheless, Martinez says he didn't run for council for the sole purpose of advocating for or being a wonk on public safety issues: "I can guarantee you, there's a lot more to me than just public safety."