On September 17, 1968, John Martinis (b. 1930) of Everett defeats two opponents to win the Democratic nomination for the 38th District, Position 2, in the state House of Representatives. Because there is no Republican candidate running for that House seat, Martinis, who is already a commissioner for the Port of Everett, will run unopposed in the November general election, winning the first of six terms as a state representative.
John Martinis, the son of a commercial fisherman and the owner of John's Sporting Goods in downtown Everett, was a leader in local sports fishing organizations. In 1967, he won a seat on the Port of Everett commission by defeating an incumbent commissioner. The following year, while keeping his commission seat, he set his sights on winning a position in the state legislature.
In the heavily Democratic 38th District, encompassing Everett and surrounding portions of Snohomish County, the September 17 primary was the election that mattered. Three candidates, all Democrats, competed -- Martinis, Jack Dootson, and Wayne Derrick. Martinis easily bested Dootson, with Derrick a distant third. With no Republican on the ballot, Martinis won the November 5, 1968, general election unopposed.
In the Legislature
In the legislature, Martinis was active on committees and commissions and chaired the Transportation and the Natural Resources committees. His most lasting influence came as chair of the Natural Resources Committee. He co-sponsored legislation, which passed in 1977, to protect scenic rivers in Washington. He also helped resolve disputes between sports fishermen and gillnetters over salmon fishing rules as salmon runs declined in the early 1970s.
Martinis's highest-profile role in the legislature centered on the Forest Practices Act passed in 1974. Washington had passed its first Forest Practices Act in 1945, to require reforestation of logged lands. In 1973, the legislature attempted to pass a new Forest Practices Act that greatly expanded government regulation and oversight of forested lands and logging operations.
Martinis helped forge a compromise that added a contract logger representative and a small forest landowner representative to the Forest Practices Board, reduced the time it took for cutting permits to be issued, reduced environmental impact statement requirements, reduced the classes of timber operations that required a permit, and added more limits to liability to clarify the requirements set out in the original law. Even with those compromises, the law marked the beginning of a new era in forest management in Washington. Martinis was recognized by the Washington Environmental Council in 1976 as a Public Official of the Year for his efforts to protect the Forest Practices Act from those who sought its repeal.
As chair of the house Transportation Committee, Martinis was involved in changes to the state's ferry fleet, including a drawn-out dispute over the construction of the ferry Issaquah. The expansion of the Interstate 90 bridge over Lake Washington also wound its way through the state legislature while he was co-chair of the committee (the house was evenly divided during the 1979 session between Republicans and Democrats, so each party appointed a chair to each committee).
In 1980, Snohomish County adopted a county council government with an elected county executive and Martinis ran for a seat on the first council. Martinis lost a close election to Bruce Agnew, but ran for a council seat again in 1983 and won, resigning his legislative seat when he joined the council. Two years later, in January 1986, Martinis was chosen by County Executive Willis Tucker (1922-2000) to serve as his deputy county executive. Martinis stepped down from county government at the end of 1991, when Tucker retired.