An old hand at Miami-Dade County politics will seek Commissioner Juan C. Zapata’s District 11 seat on the county commission. Joseph A. Martinez, an attorney, filed his papers on May 18 for the post that also has attracted Felix M. Lorenzo, a former pharmaceutical sales representative.
First elected to represent the residents of District 11 in October 2000, Martinez was re-elected in 2004 and for a third term in 2008. Major communities in District 11 include Country Walk, The Hammocks, Kendall Lakes, Bent Tree, and Lakes of the Meadow.
In 2004 Martinez served as chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission, making him the first Hispanic chair in county history and was again elected to serve as chair for the 2010-12 commission term. Martinez has served as chair and vice chair of the Budget, Planning, and Sustainability Committee, overseeing the county’s financial affairs, planning functions, and sustainability efforts for smart growth and utilization of natural resources.
He was appointed as the chair of the Public Safety Committee and has served as a member of other committees, including Government Operations, Housing and Community Development, Airport and Tourism and Recreation, Cultural Affairs, and the Unincorporated Municipal Services Area Committee.
Martinez began his public service career in 1984 as an officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department. He worked his way up through the ranks, serving as a detective with the General Investigations Unit from 1988 to 1992, and subsequently was promoted to sergeant, master sergeant and lieutenant.
His entry into the District 11 race is expected to serve as a test of voter acceptance of Zapata policies that include renaming West Kendall as Miami-Dade’s “West End.” During his inaugural term, Zapata sought to provide a new identity for the area — largely west of SW 137 Avenue between SW Eighth and SW 152nd streets — of more than a quarter million residents as well as initiating two incorporation studies in the area.
Lorenzo opposed Zapata after attending several Municipal Advisory Committee meetings, commenting, “I found no need to create new municipalities out of these unincorporated areas.”