Mercurio Martinez

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Mercurio J. "Merc" Martinez, Jr.

County Judge of Webb County, Texas
In office
January 1, 1991 – December 31, 2001
Preceded by Andres "Andy" Ramos
Succeeded by Louis Henry Bruni

Born July 25, 1937
Laredo, Texas, USA
Nationality Hispanic
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Rosa Ancira Martinez (married 1959)
Children Leticia, Adriana, Mercurio, III, Jorge, Carlos, and Rosalycia

Parents:
Mercurio, Sr., and Cristina Treviño Martinez

Residence Laredo, Texas
Alma mater St. Augustine Parochial School

Laredo Junior College
St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Texas)
University of North Texas at Denton

Occupation Educator, Businessman, Landowner
Religion Roman Catholic

Mercurio J. Martinez, Jr., often known as Merc Martinez (born July 25, 1937), is an educator, rancher, and businessman from his native Laredo, Texas. From 1991 to 2001, he was the county judge of Webb County in South Texas.


Background

Martinez was one of two children born at the age of sixty-three to Mercurio Martinez, Sr. (1876-1965), and his third wife, the 42-year-old former Cristina Treviño. The senior Martinez was a descendant of Spanish-Mexican pioneers who had settled on the banks of the Rio Grande in the mid-eighteenth century. An educator and public official in his native Zapata County, Martinez subsequently practiced law in Laredo until 1942, when he retired at the age of sixty-six. He continued to associate with other lawyers on occasional cases dealing with land ownership and engaged in historical research.[1]The younger sister of Martinez, Jr., is named Rosa, which is also the name of his wife, the former Rosa Ancira, whom he married in 1959. Mercurio and Rosa Martinez have six children, Leticia, Adriana, Mercurio, III, Jorge, Carlos, and Rosalycia.[2]

Martinez, Jr., was reared in the downtown La Azteca neighborhood of Laredo and graduated from St. Augustine Parochial School, then located downtown next to St. Agustin Cathedral. He studied at Laredo Junior College (since Laredo College).[3] He was exempt from conscription in the 1960s because he was a married father.[4]From 1968 to 1978, Martinez was a trustee of LJC and its parent organization, the Laredo Independent School District.[5]

Since 2004 and prior to his time as county judge, Martinez has served on the elected LCC board of trustees. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1959 from St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He procured a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Texas in Denton. He did post-graduate study at Southern Methodist University near Dallas, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Harvard University School of Business.[2]

Martinez was an LJC business and economics instructor from c. 1960 until 1967, when he joined Union National Bank of Laredo, since Wells Fargo near City Hall.[3]

Political life

In 1978, the Democrat Martinez was elected to the Laredo City Council, a nominally nonpartisan position. At the same time, Aldo Tatangelo was elected mayor to succeed the retiring J. C. "Pepe" Martin, Jr., of the former "Independent Club," who subsequently spent time in the Webb County Jail for theft of municipal services.[6] Martinez worked on the council to change the city government from "strong mayor" to "weak mayor" format through a new municipal charter.[3] After a brief time on the council, he was asked by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to head the Southwest Regional Office in Dallas of the Small Business Administration. During this stint, he lived in Dallas on weekdays but returned to Laredo most weekends.[4]

In 1982, Martinez returned to Laredo to run for mayor against Tatangelo, and though he had led in the primary, he lost in the runoff election.[5] In 1990, he was elected county judge, having unseated the incumbent Andres "Andy" Ramos. Though he had no Republican opponent in the general election, former Mayor Tatangelo, at the age of seventy-seven, opposed his former mayoral rival Martinez for county judge as a write-in candidate. Martinez still prevailed with some 75 percent of the votes cast, but the county Republican leadership, headed by Esther Buckley (1948-2013), endorsed Tatangelo. After three terms as county judge, Martinez was unseated in the 2002 Democratic primary by Louis Henry Bruni, a departing member of the Laredo City Council from District 2. Thereafter, beginning in the fall of 2003, Martinez began teaching accounting at Texas A&M International University in Laredo.[3][7]

In 2006, Martinez ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to represent Texas House District 42, having been defeated by the incumbent and still serving Richard Peña Raymond of Laredo. In the primary Raymond fell .07 percent plus one vote short of an outright victory. He finished first with 11,806 votes (49.8 percent); Martinez trailed with 7,650 (32.3 percent). Two other contenders held the remaining 17.9 percent of the vote.In the runoff contest in April 2006, Raymond prevailed, 8,828 votes (57.8 percent) to Martinez's 6,456 (42.2 percent).

Oddly, in 2005, Martinez contributed $1,000 to Richard Raymond's proposed run for the United States House of Representatives, a race that never materialized.[8]

Honors

In 2014, Martinez was honored with the "Higher Education Award" by the League of United Latin American Citizens, formally presented as part of the George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo.[3]He received the Paul P. Harris Award from Rotary International, the St. George and Silver Beaver medals from the Boy Scouts of America, the Tejano Achiever Award from LULAC, and "Distinguished Alumni" in 2001 of Laredo Community College.[2]

Martinez's namesake grandson, Mercurio Martinez, IV, was killed in an automobile accident in 2009 at the age of eighteen. Each year the community honors his memory with the "Mercurio Martinez, IV Teens in the Driver Seat, Annual 5K Run," sponsored by the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts, an entity of the Laredo Independent School District named for the late educator and one-term state representative, Vidal M. Treviño.[9]

References

  1. Inventory of the Mercurio Martinez Papers. Texas A&M University. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mercurio Martinez. Laredo Independent School District. Retrieved on April 28, 2014; material no longer on-line.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "2014 honoree: Mercurio Martinez, Jr.: Former councilman, county judge to receive higher education award for community work," Laredo Morning Times, February 6, 2014, p. 4D.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Vidushi Shrimali. Mercurio Martinez, Jr.. lib.utexas.edu. Retrieved on July 27, 2020; specific information may not be accessible.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Amanda Martinez. Mercurio Martinez, Jr.. tamiu.edu. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  6. Independent Club. The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  7. Louis H. Bruni served only one term as county judge, having been defeated in 2006 by Danny Valdez, who was himself defeated after two terms by former professional baseball player Tano Tijerina in 2014. In 2018, Tijerina won a second term in the position.
  8. LAREDO, Texas (TX) Political Contributions by Individuals. city-data.com. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
  9. Mercurio Martinez, IV Teens in the Driver Seat, 5th Annual 5K Run, Sunday March 24, 2013. laredoisd.org. Retrieved on April 28, 2014; material no longer on-line.