County Commissioner Eddie Martinez participated fully in the Jan. 20 commission meeting despite a legal challenge to his election still pending in the circuit court under Judge Mark Jones.
Martinez on Nov. 3 narrowly defeated former incumbent county commissioner Heather Carruthers for the District 3 seat.
Three weeks later, on Nov. 23, attorneys for Carruthers filed a lawsuit against Martinez, Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin and the county’s canvassing board, claiming Martinez did not live in the County Commission District 3 on Election Day, and is therefore ineligible to hold the office, according to the Florida Constitution.
The suit claims that Martinez was registered to vote using an address of 1100 Truman Ave., Key West, which is located in District 3; however, the suit claims, that address is not a residential dwelling, but rather the business address and a commercial property that houses Martinez’s land surveying business.
When contacted by the Keys Weekly in late November, Martinez said the Truman Avenue property includes a residential apartment.
“I’m shocked and saddened that she can’t accept that she lost,” Martinez said. “It’s a shame she’s wasting everyone’s time and she better stay away from investigating my family and what school my kids attend.”
“Martinez changed his address to 1009 Simonton St., Key West with the supervisor of elections on Nov. 5,” the suit claims.
Further, the complaint states that Martinez slept at the Marriott Beachside Hotel on Election Night, not at 1100 Truman Ave. The Beachside Hotel is not in District 3, but rather District 1, the lawsuit states.
“Carruthers further seeks a judgment of ouster of Martinez and a revocation of his commission as Monroe County Commissioner District 3,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint asks the court to direct Griffin and the canvassing board to “vacate the results of the Nov. 3 general election for Monroe County Commissioner District 3 and certify Carruthers as the winning candidate.”
Martinez’s attorney, Michael Halpern, on Dec. 7 filed a motion to dismiss the case, followed by a Jan. 4 memorandum in support of the dismissal, which states, according to online court records, “This court is only empowered to enter a judgment of ouster and cannot enjoin defendants Griffin and the canvassing board to vacate the certified election results.”
In addition, Halpern claims on behalf of Martinez that Carruthers’ complaint “contains 11 paragraphs which improperly plead more than one set of circumstances.”
Carruthers’ attorneys have asked Martinez to produce a series of 33 different documents, receipts or other items related to his residency on Nov. 3, including, but not limited to, Martinez’s driver’s license, all leases or rental agreements for properties at 1100 Truman Ave. and 1009 Simonton St., hotel room receipts for election night and school records of Martinez’s minor children.
A hearing took place on Jan. 5, but no further motions or documents have been filed since then, according to court records.