Councilman P.K. Martin Ready to Start New Chapter

Lawrenceville Patch talked one-on-one with the councilman as he nears the end of his eight years on City Council and begins his race for State Senate.

Lawrenceville Councilman P.K. Martin talks one-on-one with Lawrenceville Patch.
Lawrenceville Councilman P.K. Martin talks one-on-one with Lawrenceville Patch.
Since 2006, Lawrenceville Councilman Peter "P.K." Martin IV sat in the same chair-- two seats to the left of the mayor.

On Wednesday, he will sit in that chair for one last time.

In August, Martin announced he would not seek re-election for City Council Post 4.

"I've been doing it for eight years. I felt it was a good amount of time," said Martin.

"Where I am in my life, with my family and the kids, it just seemed like a good time to transition out," he said.

But just weeks after that news, Martin announced his plans to run for the State Senate District 9-- the seat currently held by Sen. Don Balfour. In September, Balfour was indicted on 18 charges

However, the Lawrenceville native Martin says his decision to run for state office was not necessarily the reason he chose not to seek re-election for city council. He says he's ben thinking about higher office for a while.

"I was already considering running for the seat next year in the primary, and I just felt like, when everything happened [with Balfour], I'd already decided I was going to run anyway and I decided to let people know I was considering it," said Martin.

"Being in Gwinnett County, we've seen a lot of news reports about the leaders in our county. We're in the news all too much," said Martin referring to stories about former County commissioners Shirley Lasseter and Kevin Kenerly as well as Balfour. 

"People don't trust government too much any more. I really want to try to turn that image around, " said Martin. "We have a tradition of calling public officials in the United States honorable, and we have to earn it. Now it's on us to step it up and take extra steps to make sure to get that trust back and earn that title.

Martin says he feels well prepared for the challenges he could face under the gold dome. He's previously worked with state leaders on behalf of the City of Lawrenceville and representing fellow insurance agents in Georgia. Martin currently works at his family-run Hood Insurance Agency in downtown Lawrenceville.

With his two children going to school in Lilburn, his family attending church in Loganville and his involvement in the city of Snellville, Martin says he is already plugged into the communities that compromise District 9. 

While education, taxes and unemployment are almost always issues of concern to Gwinnett residents, Martin says if elected to State Senate, earning the trust of the people would be his number one priority. 

"They are all important, but I believe people are simply so tired of politicians skirting just inside the parameters of legality, instead of putting themselves second and doing what is right," said Martin. "We have to elect people who will do the right thing, serve the people instead of their own selfish desires."

But before he can focus on his political future, Martin must wrap things up in the City of Lawrenceville with his last city council meeting as a councilman.

"I'll miss the monthly meetings," he said. "It's always good to see familiar faces. I enjoy the process. I get to hear people speak, hear their issues and I can be responsive in a quick way."

But having the closeness with the constituents has made Martin's job difficult at times as well.

"The hardest part of being on city council is you have to make a decision in an instance when both people make good arguments, and you know both people, and you have to make a decision that will affect one in a negative way," said Martin.

While during Martin's eight years, the council has made great achievements, the outgoing councilman wishes more could have been accomplished.

One of the highlights from his tenure was facilitating the move of the Aurora Theatre from Duluth to Lawrenceville.

"Making sure Aurora Theatre happened, making sure they got here," said Martin. "Because that has driven a lot of good things that have gone on in Lawrenceville." This includes popular plays like Les Miserables bringing in thousands of visitors to dine at Lawrenceville restaurants and shop at local stores.

Another highlight from Martin's time was the result of a low point for the city.

"It hasn't always been easy. The city had issues with the gas department," said Martin referring to the $3 million sanctions placed on the city by the Public Service Commission in 2011 due to problems associated with the gas department. Those issues have since been resolved. "Getting back on solid standing and knowing that we are has been one of the most important things achieved by the city."

But Martin still wishes more could have been done in the city over the past eight years.

"I wish we could have gotten further down the line with redevelopment," said Martin. He says the economy hurt progress in the city, but is glad he's starting to see some movement and hopes the city continues to move in the right direction.

He hopes the newest city councilmember will continue to put Lawrenceville on the right track. 

The runoff election for City Council Post 4 between Larry Troutman and Keith Roche is Tuesday, December 3.

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