A letter by Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez stating that he’ll take a temporary leave to address personal issues was received by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office on Monday. Meanwhile, a resolution will go before the remaining four county commissioners at a Dec. 8 meeting that will likely contain language asking Martinez to resign.
The sponsor behind that resolution in the making, County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron, said Monday afternoon that the language is still being crafted.
A representative of the county’s District 3 serving the west end of Key West, Martinez informed officials late last week that he’d be taking a voluntary leave of absence for 30 days. It all comes following his domestic violence-related arrest on Nov. 30 at a family home in Hialeah, where he allegedly threw boxes, a drawer and a pill box at his wife during an argument.
Martinez is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Dec. 21, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Christina Pushaw, press secretary for DeSantis, told the Weekly that Martinez’s letter was received Monday. As for possible suspension, that’s still under review, she said.
Through executive order, DeSantis can suspend an elected or appointed official from office for malfeasance, neglect of duties, habitual drunkenness, incompetence or inability to perform official duties. The governor also has the authority to fill that temporary vacancy.
Per statute, an elected or appointed official’s removal from office would only occur if that person is convicted of a crime.
According to arrest reports, Martinez and his wife were at a bar the night before when an argument ensued. She ended up driving herself back home, and Martinez arrived moments after.
According to the arrest report, Martinez woke up the next morning “in a rage about the incident at the bar” when he started to throw things. Martinez’s daughter ended up hiding in the bathroom and called 911 to report that her parents were loudly arguing and things were being tossed. She told police her father struggles with prescription drug abuse and becomes “regularly violent.”
Speaking to police, the arrest report states that Martinez admits that he struggles with his prescription drug abuse, but denies throwing or hitting his wife. The police report states that minor bruises were observed on the victim’s legs and right arm.
News of Martinez’s arrest drew county commissioners to respond. County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron told the Weekly on Monday afternoon that Martinez should step down, regardless of innocence or guilt.
“With all the demands on his personal life, in order for him to get them in order, I believe it will take more than 30 days,” Coldiron told the Weekly. “We have so many tremendous issues facing us right now at the county level. There’s supposed to be five of us up here. Every month he isn’t here, it’s one less person weighing in with the best solution. I have significant concerns that 30 days isn’t enough time for him to get his private life in order.”
County Commissioner Holly Raschein said Martinez’s desire to request a “leave of absence” has no foundation in statute. More importantly, she said it’s not fair to the people he represents.
“Voters have a right to have their elected officials be present and working for the communities they serve,” she said in a statement to the Weekly. “His voluntary leave would have no effect on the serious criminal offenses he has been charged with and would disenfranchise every in Monroe County on any controversial issues that may result in 2-2 voters or require a supermajority.
“In Florida, the decision to suspend or remove a local elected official rests with the governor, and that process must be respected as Governor DeSantis determines the best path forward. If Commissioner Martinez does not want to subject himself to the governor’s scrutiny, he has one clear option — he can resign. Speaking on behalf of every victim of domestic violence in our community, I think he should.”
The latest occurrence isn’t the first time police were called to a domestic incident involving Martinez. On Jan. 12, Key West Police responded to a 1009 Simonton St. apartment for a family dispute between step-daughter Natalie Guerra, 24, and Martinez.
Martinez told officers he had gotten into an argument with his stepdaughter, who had driven down from her home in Homestead to pick up her younger sisters. Guerra told police her younger sisters had called her because their parents had been fighting for two days and the two younger girls wanted Guerra to come get them, reports state.
Guerra told police Eddie Martinez was “kicking her mother, Maria Martinez, out,” and she had driven down with her fiance to collect her mother and two sisters. But when she arrived, Eddie and Maria Martinez were reportedly getting along better, and Eddie Martinez was refusing to let Guerra take her sisters to Homestead, reports state. That’s when the arguing and a physical altercation ensued.
Guerra’s fiance then reportedly “bear-hugged” Eddie Martinez from behind, pinning his arms down. Guerra said she intervened to separate her stepfather and her fiance by “smacking them away,” reports state. No charges were filed by Martinez against his stepdaughter, but she was still arrested on misdemeanor battery charges.
Martinez was elected following a November 2020 victory of Democrat incumbent Heather Carruthers. Carruthers later filed a legal challenge that claims Martinez, who’s a land surveyor with an office in Key West, did not live in District 3 at the time he was elected. That matter is still ongoing.
Constituents in District 3 with any questions or issues that need immediate attention can reach out to Monroe County staff or another commissioner, a county release states.
According to Martinez’s bio on the Monroe County website, he became president of a surveying company in 2001. He’s been a full-time resident since 2010.
In cases where local officials were charged with crimes, the governor has ordered suspension after reviewing the facts. On Nov. 4, DeSantis suspended City of Destin Councilwoman Prebble Quinn Ramswell following a felony arrest in October for official misconduct and battery on a law enforcement officer between July 2020 and April 2021. According to the State Attorney’s Office affidavit, Ramswell “knowingly, willingly and intentionally concealed numerous public records from the city, which caused unlawful harm to others” regarding a plan to build a docking facility at a condominium complex on Holiday Isle.