Jessica Martinez: It’s time to let Whittier police officers do their jobs
WHITTIER — When Jessica Martinez raises her right hand and takes the oath as Whittier’s newest city council person next month, it will be notable for a few reasons.
She will become the first Latina to sit on the council since Whittier was incorporated in 1898.
A staunch Republican, she will further solidify a conservative city council.
But perhaps more importantly, at least on a local level, she will be the first councilmember to openly call on Whittier police to enforce the municipal code as it relates to homelessness, flying in the face of a Boise, Idaho, federal court ruling that sided with people sleeping in parks and other public places.
“I think that the city needs to follow its local laws,” Martinez said. “Now, granted, we can’t be lawless. But I do believe we must protect our citizens first. Our citizens come first.”
Martinez was elected to the Whittier City Council during last week’s primaries with 51.7% of the vote. She will represent District 1, which covers West Whittier and parts of Uptown.
Martinez also ran for state Assembly and advanced to a November runoff against Democrat Lisa Calderon. If she beats Calderon in November, she will be forced to resign her City Council seat.
In an interview Monday at Mimo’s Cafe, Martinez said she has no preference where she serves.
“I kind of feel like I’m working in a triage clinic; you have to go where the most critical cases are,” she said. “Given that, I really wanted to serve in Whittier because I saw a need and urgency to get the City Council grounded again in its long-held community values and to restore a sense of stability to the community.
“But on the same hat, Sacramento is where the real bleeding is and I feel the real urgency to get up there and help stop it because right now there is no one to stop it. We need as many people that have the right ideology and right ideas to get up there and provide a balance. Otherwise, it’s like saying, ‘Oh, ok, everyone up there who is like AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] or a complete left-wing whatever it is,’ there’s no one to stop them and they can do whatever they want.”
As a conservative, Martinez said she disagrees with most tax increases but privately supported Measure W, which increases Whittier’s sales tax to help fund public safety and infrastructure projects.
“Any tax goes against the grain with me. I don’t want to be put in the position of telling someone a tax is a good idea,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately we were in the spot of choosing the lesser of two evils. I think the voters made a good decision. I support Measure W but I’m not thrilled about the fact that the people who can least afford to pay this are having to pay additional sales tax.”
Another reason she ran for City Council, Martinez said, was the proliferation of homelessness in Whittier, which she partly blamed on the city’s decision to not enforce park curfews.
“My first priority will be the homelessness issue,” she said.
Martinez also pledged to improve morale among Whittier police officers by showing appreciation and not “micromanaging” the department.
“When you’re out there, you don’t know what person is going to attack you, you don’t know when someone is going to come out and dive at you,” said Martinez. “I’ve seen some of these videos where the police aren’t doing anything to anybody, and yet you have a woman saying, ‘Oh, he touched me’ or, ‘He tried to take advantage of me.’ So I think they’re in a real difficult position and we need to let them know that we support them and their efforts to protect us. The community has to show that appreciation for them.
“And the fact is, we trust their judgment. We aren’t going to be micromanaging them every step of the way.”
Martinez is an outspoken supporter of President Trump. The bio section of her Twitter page (@JessicaFor57th) has several hashtags, including #teaparty #maga2020 #prolife #conservative and #2ndamendment
Is she worried her conservative values will clash with her younger, more liberal constituents?
“I would like people to look at the facts and the fact is we are being helped by [Trump’s] policies. The fact is that more Hispanics, more minorities, are being by his policies right now. We have to look at what is helping people and what is not. Do you still take the same medication if it’s not working? No, you get a new prescription from the doctor.
“What I think we need is some real common sense in these times. We need to turn off the TV and turn off the soundbites and start reading again… We need to shut off the entertainment factor and really look at results and facts.
“I would like to see people understand that [Trump’s] policies are working in the rest of the country in terms of bringing industry in, bringing jobs, wages rising for people in other parts of the country. I want to see that here in California — I’m for what benefits Americans the most.”
Despite political differences, Martinez said she hopes to work with all residents for the sake of improving the Whittier community.
“I’m looking forward to serving Whittier with all my heart and I invite anyone who is looking for an opportunity to be relevant in Whittier to step up,” Martinez said. “We need you, we need everyone in Whittier to come together. We’re a community.”