Bob Martinez Returns to Tallahassee to Focus on Civic Engagement
Around the State
Long before he served as Florida’s 40th governor, former Gov. Bob Martinez was a history teacher stressing civic engagement. Channeling his old job, Martinez focused on reaching out to younger Americans on civics as he returned to Tallahassee on Tuesday to speak at the old state Capitol.
Martinez talked to Florida State University students in the master’s of applied American politics and policy program (MAAPP) and encouraged them to remain engaged in the process.
“Don't lose the passion because public policy, politics, is all about passion, all about commitment, all about belief," Martinez said. "When you lose that, you're not going to be effective.”
A former legislator who served as mayor of Tampa, Martinez became only the second Republican to serve as governor since Reconstruction when he beat Democrat Steve Pajcic in 1986. Lawton Chiles beat Martinez in 1990.
Looking back at his 1986 campaign, Martinez stressed the important role young people played and how the passion they showed proved instrumental in helping him prevail. “We had six university interns,” Martinez said, noting that longtime Tallahassee figure Brian Ballard got his political start as the campaign’s driver.
Martinez’s appearance helped showcase a Smithsonian-backed exhibit which the Old Capitol will run through the middle of August. "Choosing to Participate: The Power of Civil Engagement" focuses on trying to “encourage dialogue, respect, engagement, and participation in our communities” and will run until Aug. 10.
Robert Crew, the director of FSU’s MAAPP program, said the focus of his program helped moved students from theoretical studies to a more practical education. More than 250 graduates from the MAAPP program have gone on to work with state and national politics. Crew said FSU's program was one of only three across the nation.
Martinez also gave FSU's MAAPP program high marks.
"I am proud to work with FSU's Applied Politics Program to ignite youth engagement," said Martinez. "As a former civics teacher, I share their commitment to inspire young Floridians to take an active role in their communities."
Martinez said graduates in the program would prove “great value to candidates,” especially candidates running for the first time.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner also spoke, noting that he has hired MAAPP graduates and encouraging greater civics participation across the Sunshine State.
"As tomorrow's leaders participate in civic engagement, they are creating opportunities for community involvement throughout Florida," said Detzner. "I encourage everyone to participate in the democratic process because it is my top priority to provide access and protect the right to vote."
After losing to Chiles in 1990, Martinez, who is now 79, has remained active at the national and state levels, serving as federal drug czar under President George H.W. Bush and helping bring the 2012 Republican National Convention to his hometown of Tampa.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.