Connecticut Latinos Mourn Young Leader


By Keith Griffin
Former Bridgeport City Council President Pro Tempore Daniel Martinez, who passed away at the age of 26, is being remembered as a bright, young man with endless potential.
State Rep. Andres Ayala knew Martinez as a fellow politician, former student, and, more importantly, friend. “He was like a son to me,” said Ayala. “He was extremely bright. He had a sharp, quick mind. Things came easy to him. He was really on top of things.”
Ayala added, with sadness in his voice, “He was a great young man who did a heck of a lot in the short 26 years that he lived. He served our city well. He gave every ounce of himself to the causes he loved. I’m really saddened that we’re not going to have him here with us. It leaves a great hole.”
Alma Maya, Bridgeport city clerk, knew Martinez from her days as the long-time executive director of ASPIRA CT. “I always felt he could have gone on to be the first Puerto Rican mayor of Bridgeport,” she said. “A lot of us were hoping that would happen one day. We’re really going to miss him a lot.”
Martinez made his mark early. He was president of his high school’s ASPIRA chapter. He then went on to represent Bridgeport on the organization’s national board in Washington, D.C. “He was the best we ever we had,” said Maya.  Young Martinez later  was appointed as a student representative to the state Board of Education. His interest in civic affairs eventually led him to  become the youngest President Pro Tempore in the history of Bridgeport’s City Council.
The Connecticut Post reported, “Martinez, who represented the city’s East Side for one term, from 2007-09, had battled health problems recently.”  According to the website Only in Bridgeport, City Council President Tom McCarthy issued this message to council members on Wednesday: “It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that former Councilman Daniel Martinez died this evening. Danny was a good person who cared deeply about making Bridgeport a better place. The City lost a true friend tonight. Say a prayer for Danny.”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch issued this statement. “I am deeply saddened by the loss of former City Councilman Danny Martinez. At a very young age, Danny dedicated his life to the service of others and loved the City of Bridgeport. He passionately represented his neighbors in the East Side and all who live in our city with integrity and humility. His passing is a terrible loss for the City of Bridgeport. My heartfelt condolences go to his family and loved ones during this very difficult time.”
The Connecticut Post provided this biographic information on Martinez. He was a member of Bassick High School’s chapter of ASPIRA, the national nonprofit group that promotes Latino youth leadership. He was elected president of the school’s chapter and went on to become state president of an ASPIRA Club Coalition. He was also a member of Bassick’s chapter of the Distributive Education Clubs of America and named a student representative on the state Board of Education in 2003-04.
During that time, he also took top honors at a statewide competition sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship after developing a business plan on his own. In addition, he received the Promising Male Youth award from the Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, for which he received several nominations..
Martinez was well known among Latino leaders around the state and was an ardent supporter of Latino initiatives.   Diane Alverio, publisher of CTLatinoNews, had this to say. “He was an early supporter of CTLatino News and he made sure he was one of the very first,  as minor as it may sound, to like us on Facebook. He understood how we were all connected and how each individual voice and action, no matter how small it seems, matters,” said Alverio.
Outside of living in Ohio for several years when he was young, Martinez has spent most of his life in Bridgeport, attending James J. Curiale Elementary School and graduating from Bassick High School’s business magnet program in 2004. He skipped college to work full time as a receptionist at J. Brown, a Stamford marketing agency now called G2 Promotional Marketing.
Funeral arrangements are not known at this time.
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