The Winners and Losers and What It All Means For Martinez

The Nov. 6 City Council race was a hard-fought, expensive contest and it had some significant results for the future of the city.

Take a look at the precinct map. For those of you who say that Annamarie Farias won because she had bigger signs and lots of money, think again. For those who say she won because she had developer cash behind her, please reconsider. Take a look at the precinct map. The light green are votes for Mark Ross. The blue are votes for Dylan Radke.

The dark green are votes for AnnaMarie Farias.

Martinez is no longer downtown Martinez. It is increasingly south of Highway 4 Martinez. Mark Ross said at the Candidate Forum in October that Martinez is actually more than two, but Mark likes to get poetic. He wound up saying that Martinez is every household. 

But what Annamarie said was more enlightening, I thought. She said that there are two places called Martinez, divided by demographics. One, the south part, is made up of younger famlies who own their homes, she said. The other, downtown and environs, is made up of older people and renters. 

When people tell you they want to do a better job of promoting downtown, listen to these words. This is from a city council candidate, one who believes that downtown Martinez is on life support. When Dylan Radke said that downtown is coming back, going through a revival, Farias said he must have been referring to another downtown, because that's not one she recognized. She believes downtown needs more dollars, more businesses, and though she didnt' say it, probably more housing. She and her husband built a mutli-plex condo in 2008, which is now mostly (uh-oh) for renters. 

There are multi-million dollar homes throughout the downtown and nearby downtown areas of Martinez. There are, as only Mike Alford had the guts to point out at the forum, more rental properties south of Highway Four than in downtown. The north is older, and needs more attention in terms of infastructure, but it also needs leaders who have a little respect for its charm and its well-being. One gets the sense that Farias has little enough of that. 

I met her on Main Street yesterday. She's a very nice person. She is willing to serve on the council, and as such deserves our appreciation and gratitude. And she certainly deserves a chance to show what she is willing to do for the city. 

But again, look at that precinct map. She won the election not by raising more money. Radke raised more than she did. She won by going to people in the southern part of the city, those who never, ever come downtown. The same way Lara DeLaney has won election twice. By knocking on doors of those who don't like downtown, who feel it is populated by older people and renters. As though older people and renters were somehow less worthy citizens than younger homeowners.

As an older renter who lives downtown, I have to disagree. 

I wish Farias the best, and I hope that she finds it in her heart somehow to see the entire city, the one she was born and raised in, as worthy of respect and attention. 

Steve Coll November 13, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Your assertion that people, like myself, that live south of the trestle don't come downtown because we "feel it is populated by older people and renters" is absurd. We don't come downtown because it is rundown, at times dangerous (my car window was shattered there), and does not have a desirable business base to draw us there.
Jim Caroompas November 13, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Steve, I didn't mean to make that assertion. I was quoting a candidate's description of the demographic base of north vs. south. I realize that your description of downtown is what a good many people south of the freeway think of downtown. It is a perception held by many people who live in other places as well. I had my car window shattered in Orinda, and my wife's purse stolen there, so I don't think Martinez is any more dangerous than anywhere else. I've lived downtown the vast majority of my adult life, raised my kids downtown with none of them hurt, and find downtown to be charming, in a funky kind of way. It needs more TLC, absolutely, but it's not the vortex of crime and despondency a lot of people ascribe to it - quite the opposite, in my experience.
Dave Thomas November 17, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Jim The crime rate in Martinez is 30 percent less than the national average. Martinez has several hundred law enforcement officers in the City during the daylight hours and a visit after hours by every police agency in Contra Costa. iN THE 1960'S Richmond California tried to revitalize downtown and failed. The same has been true for Crockett, Pittsburg and Antioch. That may be a sign that expending large amounts f money helping people try to make a business successful in old downtowns "might" be impossible because of enforcement of "new" building regulation on OLD buildings instead of enforcing ONLY that which is clearly a Health and Safety Issue. Within the same thought the success of downtown is related to the success of every business in the city. When the management of the City takes steps to encourage new business... little things like ending the business license tax which is a PENALTY for doing business. The tax serves no public purpose. ACCESS: When a city makes it impossible or difficult for a customer to drive into a business by placing multiple NO U TURN SIGNS and Concrete Islands (Alhambra Ave) and then eliminates on street parking to create a bike lane used daily by less that 15 commuters it is difficult for those businesses to survive. I am not anti bike but
Dave Thomas November 17, 2012 at 06:44 PM
the goal of this city should be focused on the community needs. Pro Business expressions need to be related to what can the city do to make existing businesses very successful. When a City has 50 people in Community and Economic Development (out of 120 employees) we should expect something good to happen (yes they re classed 35 into public works). Now they have regular meetings to discuss "is that sign in front of the business "legal" then they assign 3 people to investigate it. On the other hand, as Mike Alford has said, the City of Martinez has the potential to be a vacation destination. Not an impossible task but Michael Messini would have to love Motor homes and RV's. Mike Alford has said in different posts.... We are halfway between San Francisco and the Delta and proximate to Sausilito and Muir Woods AND have a Train Station. Our cute shops and food establishments contribute. FREE RV parking at the Marina with two week time limits. Eliminate Live A Boards as the regulators do not like them, Look at Lake Shasta... Houseboat Rentals booked a year in advance. A waterfront eating establishment? Can not happen if the Water Emergency Transit Agency (they operate all Ferrys) comes to Martinez AND they will eliminate our 4th of July fireworks as it endangers their Ferry and their slip Well we had a chance to OWN the Marina but we also would have to PAY 20% of the profits so the City wanted to be a renter. Can not develop on leased land EASILY.
Cooki Telles November 25, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Jim~~~I just read this article because I was on vacation for two weeks (voted before I left). In my opinion your interpretation of the election results is right on. It was also true in 1973 when I first moved here. There will always be people who prefer new to old (south to north) or the other way around. When we purchased our home in 1973, we were the youngest people on the block and now we are the oldest except for one. When we decided to move here because Jerry was employed by the county, the realtor tried to take us south of 4 to purchase a tract home. I tried to explain that we were leaving a brand new development in Livermore and that was not what we were looking for. We finally found our home by looking for it ourselves. We have grown roots here as deep as the roots of the 75 year old eucalyptus tree in our back yard. Understanding the benefits of that either comes from living it and reaping the rewards or being born into a family who has always held their history and ancestors close. Our children who were 3 and 6 when we moved here grew and thrived in this neighborhood until they left for college. To those who don't understand why so many of us choose to live our lives in these old homes which we willingly give our love and care and choose to grow old in ourselves, please don't pretend that you know better.


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