J. C. Martin (Texas politician)

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Joseph Claude "Pepe" Martin, Jr.
Mayor of Laredo, Webb County, Texas, USA
In office
Preceded by Hugh S. Cluck
Succeeded by Aldo Tatangelo
Personal details
Born (1913-08-01)August 1, 1913
Laredo, Webb County
Texas, USA
Died November 11, 1998(1998-11-11) (aged 85)
Laredo, Texas
Resting place Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Anita Ligarde Martin

Honoré Ligarde (brother-in-law)

Louis H. Bruni (nephew)

J. C. Martin, III
Patricia Martin "Patsy" Galo
Marialice Martin Cohen (later named Josephine Sacabo)

Minnie Martin Daugherty
Parents Joseph C., Sr., and Minnie Bruni Martin
Alma mater Laredo High School
Occupation Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic
Corinthian columned-residence of the late J. C. "Pepe" Martin on Clark Boulevard in Laredo, Texas
Historic home of J. C. Martin, Sr., and his wife, Minnie Bruni Martin, built on Washington Street in downtown Laredo in 1924 and restored in 2005 by Martin's great-granddaughter, Minnie Dora Haynes

Joseph Claude Martin, Jr., known as Pepe Martin or Jose Martin or Joe Martin (August 1, 1913 – November 11, 1998), was from 1954 to 1978 the mayor of his native Laredo, Texas.[1] He was known as el patron, a term which refers to a Democratic political boss in South Texas who performs small favors for the public in return for absolute political loyalty.[1]


A Laredo native, Martin was the paternal grandson of Raymond Martin, a wealthy Laredo landowner. His parents were J. C. Martin, Sr. (1886-1957) and the former Minnie Bruni (1889-1973). The Martin Building, on the campus of Laredo Community College, dedicated in 1970 and renovated in 2016, is named in honor of the senior Joseph Martin. This Martin was the president of the Laredo Independent School District board of trustees, which in 1947 spearheaded the opening of LCC, which was known until 1993 as Laredo Junior College. The Martin Building houses the LCC information technology department, which includes the offices of institutional effectiveness and institutional research and planning.[2]

Martin, Jr., was married to the former Anita Ligarde (1915-2004), a daughter of Amedee and Sara Ligarde.[3] The couple had a son, J. C. "Pepito" Martin, III (born c. 1940), and three daughters. Patricia "Patsy" Martin Galo (born c. 1942) is the wife of Dr. Michael V. Galo, who practiced medicine in Laredo from 1973 until his retirement in 2013.[4] Marialice Martin Cohen (born 1944), later known as Josephine Sacabo, is a photographer in New Orleans, Louisiana.[5] The third daughter is Minnie Dora Martin Daugherty (born c. 1945) of Laredo.[6]

Anita Martin's brother was former State Representative Honoré Ligarde, whose legislative tenure after 1963 coincided with Martin's mayoralty period.

Martin graduated from the former Laredo High School, which was then located at the downtown site occupied by La Posada Hotel. The institution was moved northward on San Bernardo Avenue to become Martin High School, named for Martin's paternal grandparents, Raymond and Tirza Garcia Martin. Raymond Martin was an active businessman and politician in Laredo.

Political life[edit]

The senior J. C. Martin was a businessman and rancher who was elected sheriff of Webb County. Martin, Jr., was elected mayor on April 6, 1954, just prior to a natural disaster, the flooding of the Rio Grande, which caused extensive damage to both Laredo and its sister city, Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. Martin won six four-year terms until he declined to run again in 1978.[7]

A month after the self-styled "reform" candidate Aldo Tatangelo was elected mayor in 1978, Martin was indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count of mail fraud. He pleaded guilty and paid a $1,000 fine and $201,118 to the city in restitution for use of city employees on his private properties. He was further sentenced to serve thirty weekends in the Webb County Jail.

As a result of the strong mayor-council system of government that had existed in Laredo for more than eighty years, the revised Laredo City Council in 1979 approved a new city charter which established the still existing City manager government. The transition was made in 1982-1983.[1]

Martin resided in the older Heights neighborhood of Laredo in a large white house with Corinthian columns near the intersection of Clark Boulevard and Meadow Street. He and his wife are interred in his family plot at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo.

Martin family gravestone in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo

Historian Jerry D. Thompson of Texas A&M International University in Laredo traces rampant political corruption in Webb County to at least the late 19th century. In his book, Warm Weather and Bad Whiskey: The 1886 Laredo Election Riot in 1886, Thompson found through his research that seventeen persons died in the election riot between rival factions called "Las Botas" and "Los Guaraches". The dispute involved powerful influential families in the region who sought to dominate politics. From the election riot arose the Independent Club, the vehicle that J. C. Martin strengthened to maintain political power in the late 1970s: "Pepe Martin was the last Independent [party] mayor. He was the typical patron. ... Pepe Martin was corrupt, but he brought out the votes."[8] Thompson said that corruption has continued in Laredo past the Martin era, as voter turnout has declined, and the region has lost much of its former state political clout in Austin. He suggested that the city council might be able to reduce corruption were the eight members to heed individual constitutents, rather than vocal political groups.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Independent Club". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ "3 recently renovated LCC buildings re-open to public". Laredo Morning Times. May 4, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ Lifespan dates are from the Martin gravestone in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo, Texas.
  4. ^ "Dr. Galo served the Laredo community for forty years", Laredo Morning Times, July 2, 2013, p. 4A
  5. ^ "Biography: Josephine Sacabo". josephinesacabo.com. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Anita Martin obituary". Houston Chronicle. May 21, 2004. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  7. ^ http://airwolf.lmtonline.com/news/archive/111298/pagea1.pdf
  8. ^ a b Gabriela A. Trevino, "Local corruption: Professor: Action could change ways dating to 1800s", Laredo Morning Times, January 5, 2015, pp. 1, 12A
Preceded by
Hugh S. Cluck
Mayor of Laredo, Texas

Joseph Claude "Pepe" Martin, Jr.

Succeeded by
Aldo Tatangelo