Martinez prevailed through hard times – and now she is a role model for Santa Ana youth

Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez is taking a lot of heat after being named one of OC Metro Magazine’s “20 Women to Watch.” The short article that accompanied that feature described in some detail how Martinez was able to overcome a life of poverty and a family that was rife with drug addiction. She even conceded to having sold drugs when she was a teenager.

This story has only served to increase my admiration for Martinez. She is succeeding in our city because the people admire her for surviving when so many of her peers did not. And for succeeding to such an extent, at such a young age, despite the long odds. Santa Ana is a city that is thirsty for role models and Martinez fits that niche quite well.

Rather than malign Martinez for her harsh upbringing we ought to instead applaud the fact that she was able to vault over all the obstacles in front of her, with the help of so many mentors and friends. Today she is intelligent, amiable and fiercely strong. No wonder she gets along so well with First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen!

Some men attack such women – but that serves only to prove that they are petty and insignificant bullies. The success that Martinez and Nguyen have worked so hard for scares their detractors – because they cannot control these powerfully independent women.

If Martinez were still steeped in the drug and gang culture, that would be one thing. But she escaped their clutches and today she is leading the charge against them. No other council member in Santa Ana has worked as hard as Martinez has. She has launched the new EPIC Commission, which has engaged numerous civic leaders in an attempt to stop gangs by engaging the youth. And she brought new blood onto our city commissions. She has also held numerous town hall meetings and worked tirelessly to serve her constituents.

Is Martinez perfect? No, but then who is? She does excel in communications and leadership and she is always willing to give you the time to discuss civic issues. I have never known a more open-minded local government official.

Malign Martinez if you will, but now is the time to get on the train, or risk being run over. The Martinez express has left the station and nothing in Santa Ana will ever be the same. She is an unfinished product, but she is learning quickly and becoming a real force to be reckoned with. I am proud to call her my friend.

I am sure that Martinez and I will disagree on some issues throughout her term. But I am also quite certain that I will continue to respect her. That she has made it this far is a miracle. Anything else she accomplishes going forward is a bonus.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.