Michele Martinez was raised in Santa Ana since the age of 11 and was the first person in her family to graduate from high school and earn a college degree; she attended Spurgeon Intermediate, Santa Ana High School, Santa Ana College and California State University Fullerton. Growing up in Santa Ana, Michele witnessed close family members and friends fall victim to drug abuse, gang violence and hopelessness. But Michele worked hard, never gave up on herself and realized at an early age that education was her only chance to get ahead.
Inspired by a desire to give back to the community that helped raise her, Michele ran for Santa Ana City Council in 2006. She personally knocked on over 7,000 doors and to the surprise of the political establishment, won the election and became one of the youngest elected leaders in Santa Ana history. Michele was recently reelected for her third term by a 34 percent margin.
Under Michele's leadership and hard work on the City Council since 2006, Santa Ana has seen a 32 percent drop in crime. In fact, Forbes Magazine recently listed Santa Ana as the 4th Safest City in the country among cities of similar population. Michele was instrumental in stabilizing the city budget by creating the first fiscal reserve policy. The general fund reserves have grown from 3 million to 41.8 million in the past four years. Michele is most proud of championing the city’s first, five-year Strategic Plan and Economic Development Strategic Plan. Finally, Michele kept her promise and helped the city increase its open space by 22 acres, and helped the city secure millions of dollars for active transportation to ensure pedestrian and bike safety, and improved and repaired nearly 300 miles of residential streets.
Michele's priorities on the council include economic development, public health and safety and active transportation. Michele currently chairs the Finance, Economic Development & Technology City Council Committee.
Michele also represents the City of Santa Ana on several regional boards; she is the President for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the nation's largest metropolitan planning organization representing six counties, 189 cities and more than 19 million residents and was recently selected to serve on the Committee – Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Committee and Local Government Commission Board. She is an at-large member for the League of California Cities - Orange County Division, at-large member for the Board of Directors and was appointed by the Board of Directors of the LOCC to the Public Works, Transportation, and Technology committee. Michele is a board member for the Orange County Waste Management Commission and is also the City’s representative on Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG), a joint powers authority established to monitor, analyze and provide Orange County's technical and policy recommendations on all SCAG plans and programs. Recently, Michele was selected by Council to serve on the Metropolitan Water District Board and theTransportation Corridor Agency.
She is the immediate Past-President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and is a board member for the Southern California Latino Policy Center, a non-partisan, policy education and research organization.
Michele graduated from California State University, Fullerton where she earned a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice. In her spare time, Michele enjoys traveling, riding her bike and going to the movies.