Bob Martinez Returns to Tallahassee to Focus on Civic Engagement

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 23, 2014 3:55 AM
Bob Martinez

Bob Martinez

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 kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (4)

3:06PM JUL 24TH 2014
Hopefully, he won't call his students desiring to work in the public sector as "lard-bricks", as he infamously slimmed state employees back in the 80's . . . . .
12:01PM JUL 25TH 2014
From the mouth of Mac Stipanovich.
I wonder if it is true Mac Stipanovich figured out what a horrible thing he did in helping to make George W Bush President?
Probably not given the oral history recollection that he provided.
12:20PM JUL 23RD 2014
It is a shame Martinez squandered his chance to lead in meaningful tax reform for Florida with the cancelazation of the Services Tax because of political expediency.
He was as a Governor far more responsible than Governor Scott however.
Of course he did not have to deal with children legislators in the House .Thanks term limits! Made the Florida legislature far worse.
1:30PM JUL 23RD 2014
And to confirm my remarks about the tax structure in Florida, Democrat Nan Rich's satatement that Florida had the third most regressive tax structure in the nation was found by Politifact to be mostly true. Mostly because it is the second most regressive tax structure .
Special shout out to JEB! and every Republicnlegislature since 1999 and particularly Governor Scott and the last two bottom five in the nation Republican legislatures.

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