The Leesburg Town Council’s longest-serving member is eying a seat in a newly drawn House of Delegates district.
Vice Mayor Marty Martinez announced this week that he will not run for a sixth council term in November when his seat is on the ballot, ending a council career that began with his election in 2002.
During his years on the council, Martinez has been appointed vice mayor by his council peers three times, and continues to serve in that role today. He said that among his proudest accomplishments while serving on the council the past two decades have been witnessing the growth of amenities at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, and seeing investments in downtown come to fruition and how the downtown area has become a hotbed of activity.
“The town has gone from hardly surviving to being a real busy and fun place to be. I’d like to say some of our policies helped drive that,” he said.
Now, he looks to help create policy in Richmond. It will be his second run for the General Assembly. Martinez ran for a General Assembly seat in 2007 when he lost to Republican incumbent Joe May in the 33rd District House of Delegates race.
He said he is going to use the lessons from that unsuccessful bid to his advantage this go-around.
“I know back then it was a totally different culture and environment. I was going against a well-liked incumbent. The fact that I got 12,000 votes … because of that run Leesburg was taken out of that district,” he said. “What I learned then I definitely will apply to today.”
He cited his belief that Leesburg has been “left behind,” so when the opportunity to run in a newly drawn district came up, he jumped at it.
Martinez cites finding solutions for affordable housing as a top priority if elected to the General Assembly.
“One of my pet peeves is what we call affordable housing and how it’s defined. I would like us to sit back and revisit the whole idea of what that means. I think there are a lot of people being left out, particularly young people and senior citizens. Trying to find housing in this area is terrible. When you start talking about affordable housing what are you talking about? The average median income in this area is $125,000. There’s a big divide between those who can make that kind of money and those who can’t. I’ve heard of a lot of young couples having to leave the county and town and go to West Virginia, even though they have jobs here, because they can’t afford it. We need to find a way to keep those people here, find a way to help them find affordable housing,” Martinez said.
He acknowledged he does not know what a state solution to affordable housing would look like, but said he believes there are things that can be done in the General Assembly to help localities grapple with that and other issues.
“Part of my problem right now is everybody passes the buck and nobody wants to take a stand. I’m going to see what I can do about taking a stand and passing it down to our localities. It all comes down to one thing: money. What kind of resources can we make available to our towns and counties? It’s going to be a tough road, but I know what I’m signing up for,” he said.
In addition to the Town of Leesburg, the 29th House District includes parts of Ashburn and Lansdowne. There currently is not a representative living in the new district and no other candidates have yet announced an intention to run. Martinez said whether he is challenged by a fellow Democrat or an Independent or Republican, he is ready for the challenge and excited about it.
What has also not been determined is whether the seat will be on November’s ballot, when his council seat is up for re-election, or whether it would be scheduled for another year. Regardless, Martinez emphasized he has no intention of running for re-election for his council post. It’s time to pass the baton on to someone else, he said.
“It’s time for someone to jump in there like I did 20 years ago with new energy and new ideas,” he said.
For more information on Martinez’s campaign, go to martyfordelegate.com.