On an early weekday morning, a young man clings to his mother, a story of deep ambition and curiosity is told through his eyes. Unknown to him at the time, he became a member of a bigger cause, a union strike, one of many major political scenes that will influence him.
Jacob Jones-Martinez, 41, is a man looking to make a difference in Cochise County. According to Jones-Martinez, his ambition and curiosity as a child drove him to politics. And his focus derives from the need to create a more diverse, inclusive political climate.
Jones-Martinez works in Cochise County’s Health and Social Services Department as the healthy communities coordinator. His main role consists of visiting different cities within the county to meet with locals about health and social services.
“I interact with the people on a daily basis and get to hear their concerns … I may not see the changes in my lifetime, but at least I was able to plant the seed,” said Jones-Martinez.
His interest have not always aligned with politics. He dropped out of college his first go-round and began working as a bartender for a few years. Jones-Martinez 20s came and went.
After a few years away from the academic setting, Jones-Martinez decided to go back to school, attending Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. His passion for politics and community relations grew and he began to forge his professional career.
Jones-Martinez met his wife, Laura Jones Martinez, in Oregon about 12 years ago. They married and moved back to her hometown, Sierra Vista, Arizona.
“Our family, friends and really everyone was so supportive of [Jacob] wanting to work for the county,” said Laura Jones Martinez, a graphic designer.
Jones-Martinez is involved in various programs, including the New American Leaders, an initiative that helps influence marginalized people to run for political office. He wants to open up politics by encouraging women, Blacks, Hispanics and many other groups of people to work hard and make a change in their communities by gaining a political voice.
Among Jones-Martinez’s recent accomplishments, is being selected to be a part of a prestigious statewide program where he will be a Flinn-Brown Fellow, a leadership academy ran by the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership and sponsored by the Flinn Foundation.
The Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy is centered in Arizona government. Government leaders of all different political backgrounds, from all over the state, gather to converse about problems and solutions to improve the state.
The leadership academy is just one way to enhance Jones-Martinez’s field work. With 36 statewide officials of all different rankings attending the 12 session seminars, the networking and connections have become endless.
This is one way for Jones-Martinez to widen his influence.
“I have learned a lot from the past few meeting by just being able to ask questions to people I would have never met,” Jones-Martinez said.
Being able to hear and interact with people about some of Arizona’s biggest problems has motivated Jones-Martinez to make a bigger name for himself in Cochise County. Although his plans are not set in stone, he does plan on running for elected office so he can create change faster to improve his county.
Kayla Belcher is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at email@example.com.