Irving Martinez, a gadfly and former political candidate whose firebreathing pronouncements belied his small stature, died Sunday morning of natural causes, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said. He was 51.
David Cousino, who ran several times for mayor, said Martinez made a difference in Macon, a city he loved and wanted to see do better.
“I’m going to miss him, because I don’t have my little fire underneath me anymore,” Cousino said. “But there’ll be another fire fighting for what’s right in this community.”
Martinez announced his candidacy for a Macon-Bibb Commission seat last year but never qualified. Martinez did win 6 percent of the vote in the state Senate District 26 race in 2012. That forced a runoff election between then incumbent state senator Miriam Paris and former state representative, David Lucas. Lucas went on to win the seat.
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Cousino said Martinez often sounded an alarm about problems he saw in Macon. He credited Martinez with helping push for the consolidation of Macon and Bibb County governments. However, Cousino said, Martinez wanted more and younger candidates to change the system.
“As long as we keep putting the same people in office, that’s not going to happen,” Cousino said.
Jones said Martinez died at 2:40 a.m. at The Medical Center of Central Georgia. Jones is working with Cousino to find Martinez’s next of kin. Martinez hailed from New York, and he maintained his distinct accent.
When Martinez announced his campaign for the Macon-Bibb County Commission seat, he minced few words as he talked about a police officer’s shooting of Sammie Davis Jr. outside the Pio Nono Avenue Kroger, students failing out of schools and other social problems.
“As a whole,” Martinez said, “Macon’s leadership is failing miserably.”
Crest Lawn Funeral Home of Macon has charge of the arrangements.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.