Fresno · Politics

Report: Martinez, Fresno Co. Board of Education member, faces DUI charges

Another Central Valley Democrat is in hot water over drinking and driving.

Fresno County Board of Education member James Martinez will appear in court on Aug. 22 for a pre-trial hearing regarding a driving under the influence citation in 2020.

Martinez was cited by police on Nov. 8, 2020, not even one week after he was elected to the Board of Education.

Police stopped him just after midnight for not stopping at a red light or stop sign, according to court records, and bail was set at $11,000.

He is accused of having a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher – more than double the legal limit – to which he has, thus far, pleaded not guilty.

Currently, Martinez works as the director of operations for Fresno State’s student body government, Associated Students, Inc.

Martinez previously served on Vice President Kamala Harris’s Fresno-based staff when she was a U.S. Senator for California.

He also worked as a top staffer for state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger).

Martinez won his first election handily in 2020 and is up for reelection in 2024.

While Martinez’s citation first became public in a GV Wire story on Tuesday, his trouble with drunk driving is just the latest involving a Democrat in the Central Valley.

Last June, Kingsburg City Councilwoman Jewel Hurtado was arrested by California Highway Patrol for driving at 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content or higher and speeding greater than 65 miles per hour.

She was arrested near the intersection of Shaw Ave. and Highway 41 and faces a maximum of six months in the Fresno County Jail. 

Just one month before, in May 2021, then-Wasco Mayor and current councilmember Alex Garcia was arrested by CHP on Highway 43.

Garcia pleaded no contest and was sentenced to one year of probation before having his mayoral title stripped by his fellow councilmembers.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.