Gimenez has denied Cabrera worked for his campaign, and Martinez said he believes that and has not attacked the mayor on it.
“It’s not my style,” said Martinez. “I’m not a traditional politician — a win-at-all-costs politician.”
Martinez says he does have a plan to stop absentee-ballot fraud in the future: have the Legislature call a special session and vote to keep absentee-ballot requests secret. That way, Martinez said, the ballot collectors wouldn’t know which doors to knock on. The current law exempts those records from view by the general public, but makes them available to political parties and committees.
Jose Angel Martinez was born at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Sept. 18, 1957. His parents moved to Miami from Cuba two years earlier because “they saw what was coming” two years before the triumph of Fidel Castro’s revolution, he said.
He attended Miami Military Academy and finished his two years at Miami Dade College by age 16. He eventually graduated from Barry University with a degree in public administration in 2000. But along the way he worked a series of jobs.
In one job he worked until 5 a.m. hosing down meat before inspectors showed up each morning. He also worked as a travel agent and an electrician. At one time he delivered musical organs well past midnight.
Married and the father of five, Martinez was a decorated Miami-Dade police officer from 1984 until he was elected to office in 2000. He worked his way up the ranks, from detective in general investigations to sergeant, master sergeant and lieutenant. Along the way he collected more than 70 commendations, including two Gold Medals of Valor and a pair of Officer of the Year awards.
“He was honest and hard working. What else can you ask for?” said his former boss, retired Miami-Dade Police Maj. Ned Valois. “We had some hairy times, and he’s always been a stand-up guy.”
Martinez was first elected to the County Commission to represent District 11 in 2000. The West Kendall seat stretches from Sweetwater south to ZooMiami, and covers all of West Kendall well past Krome Avenue and the Urban Development Boundary. He held onto his seat through two easy elections.
His time in office has been relatively scandal-free, with the exception of a home he built in his district in 2006 with the help of close friends in the construction industry. Martinez said Jorge Guerra Jr., who at the time sat on the board of the Latin Builders Association, was donating his time to help supervise the construction.
After media reports surfaced, Martinez asked for an opinion from the county’s ethics commission director, who opined that Martinez should not meet with or vote on any Latin Builders issue until the home was completed.
Martinez has also been criticized for pushing for development outside the Urban Development Boundary, and for his vote on the Miami Marlins new ballpark in Little Havana.
Martinez voted against the ballpark plan at first, but later voted in favor of the construction contract for the stadium.
More recently, Martinez has been a no-show for a couple of mayoral debates. One was in his district and sponsored by the Kendall Federation of Homeowners. Another was before The Herald’s editorial board. The commissioner chalked up the missed Kendall Federation debate to a scheduling conflict.
He said he missed the Herald meeting because he said he believed the editorial board had already made up its mind.
“And you can write that,” Martinez said.