Mark Martin – Freeport’s new councilman
By BEN GRAFTON
At its last meeting, Freeport’s City Council appointed Mark Martin to fill an open seat on the Council. The term will expire in 2010.
Martin, who will be 44 this month, was born in Enterprise, AL., and was brought to Freeport as a toddler in 1967 when his family moved here to run the Dixie Dandy grocery store. He says his parents were the best anyone could hope to have.
Mark Martin was in the first kindergarten class in Freeport and went on to graduate from Freeport High School in 1982. He now says that he was a “spoiled brat” who went to school to play sports. After high school, at age 19, Martin married a Freeport girl, but the marriage failed and they were divorced in 1990. During this time, he worked at the grocery store and at the same time enrolled at Okaloosa Walton Community College, where he earned an Associate of Science degree in general studies in 1987. After his father died in 1989, the store was sold and he moved on to Tallahassee, where he served as a student assistant on Coach Bowden’s staff while earning a criminal justice degree.
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. He never worked in the law enforcement field, but took a job in the restaurant business where he did well and received promotions. Following this, he took a job with the Florida Department of Revenue in Tallahassee where he worked for over four years and learned a lot about working in the public sector. In 2001 he had an opportunity to take a job with Hertz car rentals and soon received a promotion to a management post in Jacksonville, where he commuted back and forth.
Martin said traveling got old, and helped by wife Rose, (another Freeport girl, who he wed in 1993) who sent out his resume to state agencies, he landed another job with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Public Land Management (BPLM). Mark describes this bureau as similar to the state’s real estate agent.
While with the BPLM, Martin completed the Florida Certified Public Manager program and also became licensed as a real estate salesman and as a real estate broker. During this period, Martin said he also learned that management in the private sector and management in the public sector are two very different things.
Martin says that he realized that Walton County was where he really wanted to be and in order to move back to Freeport with his wife and their two young daughters, he took a job in the car rental business once again.
In May of 2005, he went to work for the Walton County Planning Department and worked for Pat Blackshear, from whom he says, “I clearly learned a lot. Pat knows her stuff.” While with the Planning Department he continued to expand his knowledge and became a certified flood plane manager and completed the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Walton Program.
Since his return to Freeport, Martin has made a concentrated effort to attend as many city council and county commission meetings as possible to meet people and to learn about local plans and problems. He says he has learned to listen to the people of the community because what the Council does is their business.
Martin says he has learned his children are the best things to ever happen to him. He and his family are members of Freeport’s New Beginnings Church.
THE FREEPORT CITY Council appointed Mark Martin to fill an open seat on the Council. The term will expire in 2010. Mayor Mickey Marse dedicated a moment of silence in which to remember Councilman Mike Helton who succumbed last week to cancer. A little later in the meeting, Mark Martin was nominated and approved by the Council to fill Helton’s unexpired term. Martin agreed to the appointment and will be sworn in at the Council meeting of December 9.