It was the family shelters that introduced me to the harsh reality of being homeless. It was then that I realized, our family was poor! I did not know we were poor until then. I thought my life was normal. Unfortunately, for too many working-class families in South Los Angeles the experiences of homelessness’, poverty and the high cost of living are all too normal for far too many people.
My name is Efren Martinez, and I am running for state assembly to shake things up! I am driven by an urgent need to make housing and the cost of living more affordable, to greatly improve our local public schools, and to recruit large employers to relocate to South LA to take advantage of our great workforce, fabulous weather, and top-notch infrastructure.
To tell you a little about myself, before moving to Los Angeles my mother Francisca was a farm worker in Calexico. My father, Efren Sr., was a gas pumping attendant and later a truck driver and salesman. My parents split and both struggled, but both worked extremely hard for me and my younger sister. They taught us the values of hard work, family, community, and service to others. We didn’t have much, but we were together.
We mostly lived in the Florence-Firestone section of South Los Angeles. In the 90s these were tough streets with violence, crime, gangs and more. For many reasons, I started down the wrong path, but with the help of two teachers, I turned my life around. After graduating High School, I worked as an auto parts delivery driver, a salesman, and other jobs. While I was proud to be able to help, I wanted to do more for my family. I enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served ten (10) years and received multiple commendations and awards.
The ten years I spent in the Marines taught me discipline, leadership, and the importance of service to others. It was a transformative experience, shaping me into the person I am today with a new mission — to empower myself, my family and my community through education and entrepreneurship.
I studied Business at the Navy College and began to work with the Florence-Firestone/Walnut Park Chamber of Commerce eventually becoming the Executive Director. With a childhood friend, we started a small transportation business taking seniors and individuals with disabilities to and from medical appointments and to do local errands.
With our success, we have been able to give back and help others. We started with grocery giveaways, then Christmas toys and school supplies. During the COVID pandemic we helped students with school supplies and a few scholarships. The more I paid attention to the world surrounding us the more I realized that more needed to be done to support the hard-working families of South Los Angeles.
This is why I am running for political office. I want to be a voice for those forgotten by career politicians and false leaders that claim to serve.
My campaign is built on the foundation of hope and tangible change. In Sacramento, I will fight to:
End Homelessness: Expand compassionate services to address the mental health and addiction crisis in Los Angeles.
Reduce the cost of living: The rent, the bills, and the gas are too darn high. We must bring down inflation and make South Los Angeles a more
Better Public Schools: Increase spending on local public schools and expand vocational training.
Together, we can transform our shared experiences into real economic opportunities and improved public education in South Los Angeles.