David Martin: How He Became Mayor

Stamford’s Mayor Shares his Story with SHS Debate Team


Isabella Sorial

Mayor Martin answering questions from students.

Isabella Sorial, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published in the Stamford Advocate. 

Senior Augustus “Gus” Doricko wasn’t expecting to win the National Council of Teachers’ English Award for Superior Writing. He also didn’t expect the city’s mayor, David Martin, to congratulate him by mail (yes, a physical letter lies in Doricko’s home, handwritten by our mayor). Nonetheless, being the ambitious person he is, Doricko decided to build a connection with the mayor. He made an effort to get involved with his campaign, becoming a volunteer and contacting the mayor at least once a week with updates.

When asked about his interest in working with the mayor, Doricko said, “Civic duty mandates that we participate in our governments: local, state and federal. I’m happy to be able to work with Mayor Martin given the wisdom and success he’s brought to Stamford.” Before the two met, Doricko asked the mayor a for favorhe asked him to take a night out of his busy schedule speak to our beloved debate team. This Monday, that request was fulfilled.

Mayor Martin entered Stamford High modestly on September 18. With just his deputy campaign manager at his side, I escorted him to the small auditorium. The debate team bought some pizza and drinks, set up chairs, and set up a podium for the mayor. He didn’t do what we expected, though. He took a slice of pizza and asked us to instead set a chair for him on the small stage. He seemed very relaxed. Even though he hadn’t prepared for this event, his speech ebbed and flowed without hindrance.

With 36 people in the room, Doricko cordially introduced Martin. He walked up the short staircase and sat on the chair. He first gave us some insight into his childhood and educational background. Then he spoke about his political platform. Now, one needs to understand that this isn’t a fame-driven man. “I’m an introvert,” he admitted, “I don’t want to have a microphone and dance on stage in front of everybody, whereas a lot of [politicians] are more into the show.  Politicians are show-horses [or] work-horsesI’m clearly a work-horse.” Mayor Martin has so much passion for this town and a deep commitment to public serviceand that’s what drove him to run for elected office.

Contrary to popular belief, not all politicians grow up with a desire to become a mayor or president. Our mayor happens to fall into this category.  He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and went to public school there. After graduation from high school, he studied at MIT. His only vague connection to politics as a child was his membership on his middle school debate team. In high school, marching band and science teams consumed all of his time. These interests led him to study biology, but by the end of his undergraduate program, he knew that he wasn’t destined for a life of lab work.

He received his degree anyway, but stayed in MIT for another year to study economics. Those classes allowed him to reevaluate his interests. When asked about finding one’s passion in life, he responded, “Does it change the way you think?” Economics certainly did that for him. He hasn’t looked at the world in the same way ever since. After receiving that degree, he got a job at the Congressional Budget Office in Washington, DC. This drove him to get a business degree from Stanford. When he switched over to a job in PepsiCo, Martin moved to Stamford with his future wife Judy. Soon they purchased a home in North Stamford, and this is the home he lives in to this day.

Around the same time he bought his house, elections for the Board of Representatives opened. As a Democrat in a primarily Republican district, he didn’t think he had much of a shot at winning. But with charisma he didn’t know he had, Martin triumphed by a slim margin and won himself a seat on the board. After a few years in a few different positions, he decided to run for mayor and won with 48 percent of Stamford’s populus on his side.

Although Stamford has been doing well, Mayor Martin has had a few personal struggles within his time in office. Around the same time his wife was diagnosed with cancer, Mayor Martin was diagnosed with melanoma in his face. If you’ve heard his infamous “Always Wear Sunscreen” graduation speech, it is based on the fact that his lack of attention to proper skin care allowed a tumor to develop near his eye. Martin was lucky enough to get the tumor removed; his wife, on the other hand, unfortunately passed away last November.

Despite these challenges, our Martin has prevailed as one of the most active mayors in all of Connecticut. Using his background in economics and in the Congressional Budget Office, he is able to understand our city’s financial situation better than many others. Under him, Stamford has been called “the best-managed city in the state.”

Mayor Martin’s campaign highlights seven priorities including financial integrity, social justice, public safety, education and economic development. The mayor has made a continuous effort to attend numerous events in our community including ones held at mosques, the JCC and various churches. He heavily supports the arts, music and STEM programs. In fact, he is working to enrich these curriculums at UConn Stamford in order to bring more jobs to our town. This is just one of the may projects he is working on to make Stamford the best place to live. Plus, not only is Martin our mayor, he sits as a non-voting member on the Board of Education. “I have attended more Board of Education meetings as mayor than all other mayors in the history of Stamford — combined,” he states.

Overall he says that “being mayor is exhausting” but very rewarding. Getting to hear from him directly was a truly memorable experience. He takes extreme care in answering questions and makes an effort to be as relatable as possible. He even said that “The Round Table does a better job of covering the issues going on here at Stamford High than the Advocate,” partly due to our proximity. Although he stated multiple times that “politics is like warfare,” our mayor is braving the storm and making sure that our city’s issues get taken care of.

Photo by Samantha Heller
Left to Right: Mayor David Martin, Isabella Sorial (junior), volunteer and event organizer Augustus Doricko (senior), Deputy Campaign Manager Taylor Gray

I would like to take this time to personally thank Mayor David Martin for all he has done to protect our beloved community. I would also like to thank Augustus Doricko for his efforts in bringing the mayor to Stamford High and making this event possible. And finally, a shout out to the debate team for their active participation throughout the evening—Doricko and I wouldn’t have a team if it wasn’t for them.

If you are interested in joining Mayor Martin’s 2017 campaign as an intern, talk to his deputy campaign manager, Taylor Gray at [email protected].