A Robstown businessman is among the five Democratic candidates running for Precinct 5 constable in hopes of succeeding Constable Mike Roldan after his retirement in December.
Rolando Martinez, owner of Hwy 44 Auto Parts since 1988, says he's the candidate that would beef up the constable's office and reduce police response times.
"I want to run for this one because right now there are a lot of things happening in the precinct and it seems the precinct can't take care of what's happening," Martinez said. "But I've got the eagerness and I've got the drive and I've got the desire to do a good job and whatever I need to do."
Martinez, 51, has no law enforcement experience, but he says that isn't a prerequisite to heading the constable's office.
This is his first attempt for elected office, although his younger brother, Sgt. Arturo Martinez of the Freer Police Department, is running for constable in Duval County.
Rolando Martinez, who received his GED while in the military, has resided in Robstown since 1991 and lived in Corpus Christi from 1983 to 1991.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1974 until 1983, achieving the rank of staff sergeant, plus two years in an Army Reserve unit in Sinton.
Martinez said a change in leadership is needed at the Precinct 5 constable's office, with better pay and benefits for deputies.
"A lot of good officers have left this office," he said. "I don't know why it is, it might be because of the leadership. I know the benefits they have right now aren't good either. I'm glad they have the collective bargaining because I'll do all that I can to get them benefits and better pay."
Martinez said he would only hire deputies with law enforcement experience. He also said he would try and get county leaders to fund hiring at least two retired officers to serve warrants for a few hours a day.
"That way it would free most of your officers to be out on the streets," he said.
Martinez said another of his goals, if elected, is to fight drugs. He said he would focus on undercover work and "just try and get as much of it off the streets as you can."
"Get the dealers and suppliers and just hit them," he said. "I know right now there are a lot of drug problems in the county and I want to make a task force to battle that, probably do a lot of highway interdiction to build up the drug fund to hire more officers and buy more equipment so the officers can have an easier job."
Martinez said burglaries and prostitution are also big criminal issues in the precinct.
Precinct 5 encompasses 320 square miles, bordered on the west by Jim Wells County, FM 1694 on the east, San Patricio County to the north, and Driscoll city limits on the south. The constable's office has 13 full-time officers and serves as the principal policing agency for Agua Dulce, Banquete and Bluntzer, while also covering Robstown.
"There's a lot of burglaries, county-wide, especially outside of Robstown," Martinez said, "and there's a lot of prostitution in Robstown, and that needs to be addressed."
Martinez said he would combat burglaries by trying to hire more officers to do more patrols "and try to get at least a 30-minute response time whenever there's a burglary call."
He said he would battle prostitution by finding out exactly where it exists and arresting prostitutes and their patrons and posting their photos on a Website.
"If I win, I'm also going to regulate the towing fees for all the towing companies because right now a lot of them are getting out of control. They're charging exorbitant fees," said the owner of his own wrecker service and salvage yard. Martinez is the son of Zoila Martinez of Corpus Christi and Juan Martinez of Freer. He is separated and has a daughter and three sons, including a 28-year-old son in the U.S. Army stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash. who is set to deploy in September for his second tour of duty in Iraq.