Term Served: (1987 - 1991)
The 40th governor of Florida, Bob Martinez, was the first U.S. governor of Hispanic descent and the second Republican elected chief executive of Florida since Reconstruction. Martinez was born in Tampa in 1934, the grandson of Spanish immigrants. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa and a master's degree from the University of Illinois. He was head of the Tampa teachers' union in the 1960s and mayor of Tampa from 1979 until his run for governor in 1986.
Governor Martinez's term is distinguished by many environmental protection and land saving programs. These programs help preserve wilderness areas and surface waters of Florida. The Surface Water Management and Improvement Act, better known as "SWIM," helps protect such bodies of water as Lake Okeechobee, Tampa Bay, Lake Jackson, St. Johns River and the Kissimmee River. Martinez is also remembered for his aggressive stance on wasteful spending by legislators and the bolstering of Florida's drug control programs.
The Governor's Mansion received one of its most popular works of art during the Martinez term. First Lady Mary Jane Martinez was responsible for the addition of the bronze sculpture entitled, Manatee Dance, to the north courtyard. This ingenious sculpture by artist Hugh Nicholson celebrates the state marine animal.
After his term in office, Governor Martinez was appointed by President Bush to be the director of the National Campaign Against Use of Drugs. He now operates an international consulting firm in his hometown of Tampa.