Citing health issues, Monroe County Commissioner Eddie Martinez resigned from the Monroe County Commission on Tuesday afternoon. An official resignation letter was sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to a county press release.
A representative 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.
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 admitted 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.
Martinez is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Dec. 21, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
The Weekly reached out on Tuesday to Martinez for comment, but his voicemail said his inbox was full and he did not return a call.
Martinez’s resignation comes a day after news that a resolution was being crafted by Commissioner Michelle Coldiron asking him to step away from the seat.
“It is my utmost desire for Eddie Martinez to receive the help he needs to overcome his current health problems. I wish the best for him and his family,” Coldiron told the Weekly shortly after the news of Martinez’s resignation. “It is imperative for the residents of Monroe County to have five commissioners devoting their full attention to the important issues confronting us, and I look forward to working with whoever the governor appoints to replace Mr. Martinez.”
Commissioner Holly Raschein told the Weekly that she’s grateful to Commissioner Martinez for sparing Monroe County the turmoil and doing the right thing by resigning.
“I hope this incident reminds us all that domestic violence and substance abuse remains an endemic problem in our community and that we must redouble our efforts to address it,” she said. “I wish Eddie and his family the best in finding peace in their lives.”
Monroe County mayor David Rice indicated that he was relieved to avoid the impending conversation at Wednesday morning’s BOCC meeting. “I’m very glad that Eddie made this decision. It takes him and us away from a discussion that I would rather have not had,” said Rice. “I believe he made the right decision, and I wish him well in his personal endeavors.”
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.
Per state statute, Gov. Ron DeSantis can appoint an interim commissioner to serve until a special election, which can be held in 2022 as part of the regular election cycle next year (August primary, November general). The special election winner will serve the remaining two years of Martinez’s term, until November 2024.
In the 2022 election, four of the five county commission seats will be up for election. By statute, Districts 2 and 4 are normally up for election in gubernatorial election years. The winners of those races will serve until November 2026. In addition to District 3, District 5 will be up for a special election, following the death of Commissioner Mike Forster in early September. DeSantis appointed former State Representative Holly Merrill Raschein to serve as the interim appointment. The District 3 and District 5 special election winners will serve until November 2024.
If constituents in District 3 have any questions or issues that need immediate attention, they can reach out to Monroe County staff or another commissioner.
Alex Rickert contributed to this report.