Antonio "Tony" Martinez was born Dec. 31, 1945, in Harlingen, Texas, a town about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. One of six children, Martinez grew up when the railroad tracks were the dividing line between Anglo-American and Mexican-American families.
Later, his family moved to San Antonio, Texas. He attended the Peacock Military Academy, a private high school, and graduated in 1963.
Later, he attended the University of Texas at Austin for his bachelor's degree and went on to law school at St. Mary's University. He graduated from St. Mary’s in 1970 and moved back to the valley to Brownsville, Texas.
Martinez’s connections to the community and his personal experiences would later translate into a career in politics. He was a board member in Brownsville at St. Joseph’s Academy and also helped found Guadalupe Regional Middle School, a Catholic school that provides a tuition-free education.
In 2007, he worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and experienced organization and passion. He realized he wanted more for the city of Brownsville, so in 2011 he announced his candidacy for mayor. He was elected and re-elected for a second term.
As mayor, Martinez has worked on several initiatives to benefit residents, including hike-and-bike trails to encourage exercise. He assisted with the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville; the result is a combined institution, UT-Rio Grande Valley. He also played a role in attracting Space X to his city; Space X manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft.
Martinez acknowledges that he has been affected and shaped by various moments, both difficult and beautiful, in his life. He says he has chosen to remain a positive person.
“I like to walk on the sunny side of life,” he said.