John F. Martin
Garfield County Commissioner
Serving in his sixth term as Garfield County Commissioner, John Martin is not only a seasoned, knowledgeable leader serving the county, region, and state, he also represents western Colorado’s interests nationally. The National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region (WIR) long ago identified John as an exceptional leader. In 2014-15, John served for a year as the national president of WIR, representing the concerns of all western states to the federal government. John has also been a member of CLUB 20 for more than 16 years.
John is an individual who has his heart in the past, his mind on the present, and his eyes on the future. He is a leader who believes that listening, understanding history, conducting in-depth research, and being willing to make decisions are the keys to a positive future.
John is a westerner, whose family helped settle the territory that is now North Carolina in the 1650s, and then began a migration west. His family traveled through the frontiers of Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri, the Indian lands of the Dakotas and Kansas, and by the 1860s finally settled in the Colorado Territory.
He left home when he was 13, and married his high school sweetheart, Nancy, at age 19. He fathered two children with Nancy. He is a foster parent and has four grandchildren.
He has sufficient credits for a college degree, but says life got in the way of assembling them for a diploma, so, as he says, “I hold a master’s degree in the school of hard knocks, with a minor in common sense, and have applied reality tattooed on my back.”
John started working in construction and then moved into law enforcement – at first serving as the dog catcher. He served the public for nearly 25 years in law enforcement with the City of Glenwood Springs Police Department, rising through the ranks to patrol sergeant. In 1990 he was awarded the honor of Citizen of the Year by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. In the mid-1990s, he expanded his interest in public service by running for county commissioner. He ran unconventionally, on a write-in ballot. He served his first year in office working both in law enforcement and as a commissioner, before retiring from the police department as an administrative sergeant in 1997.
Martin has led the county to achieve far-reaching goals during one of the longest tenures of any Western Slope county commissioner — five terms over nearly twenty years. He is proud that Garfield County’s infrastructure, including the construction or acquisition of most of the county-owned administrative buildings, has been during his years as commissioner. As chair of the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, he has led the organization to fiscal stability – the county is debt-free, and Garfield County has a balanced budget and healthy fund balances, achieved without raising taxes — unlike federal, state and peer county governments.
He sits on eight legislative steering committees in the statewide organization, Colorado Counties, Inc., (CCI) and chairs CCI’s Public Lands Steering Committee. Martin has also been appointed to the County Technical Services, Inc. (CTSI) Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors and the oversight committee for the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) on severance tax distribution.
In order to maximize federal funds benefitting Colorado counties, John worked tirelessly to ensure passage of the Colorado Federal Mineral Lease District Act (“Act”) in 2011, substantially modified in 2012. The Act makes it easier and faster to put federal mineral lease payments into local communities for public facilities and services. The Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District is the national model for this legislation.
John is a keen historian, and his family notes that he has unearthed many critical documents that have served to keep the federal government respectful of Garfield County’s interests. He stands up for the rights of western Colorado at the state legislative level. He works to protect western slope water and access to federal lands, including the Lewis and Clark Trail. He is very proud of his western Colorado history and heritage and is a walking encyclopedia of facts. As John’s daughter Lisa says, “He has history from 1594 in his back pocket!”
His philosophy, that no one person is more important than any other, is one which he believes deeply. He lives and teaches this perspective on a daily basis. In addition, John knows every road, gate, leader – alive or dead – throughout Garfield County’s history, and, by name, every rancher, business leader, and citizen. And their relatives. He walks through his beloved county as a friendly neighbor. He is led by a sense of order and fairness rooted in his law enforcement background. He has preternatural patience and near limitless imagination. These traits are evident in his absolute concern for western Colorado and Garfield County’s positive, prosperous future. His place in history is no less notable than those of the centuries of leaders who preceded him. John’s crisp, old-west style and insightful demeanor are familiar calling cards. As his fellow commissioners note, John is the person you would call if your car broke down in a snowstorm on I-70. He would saddle up his horse and be there.
Garfield County Commissioner earns Distinguished Service Award
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. – Garfield County Commissioner John Martin is the 2017 recipient of the Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) Distinguished Service Award. CCI presented the six-term county commissioner with this prestigious service award on Nov. 28 at its winter conference in Colorado Springs.
Larimer County Commissioner and CCI board President Lew Gaiter III bestowed the award, calling Martin a rugged individualist and leader who believes an understanding of history and the ability to listen are key to making the correct decisions for constituents.
May, 2013 – John Martin becomes President to the National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region.
Photo of John Marting at NACo meeting in May 2013 by Coconino County
GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – John Martin, Chairman of the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, was installed as President of the Western Interstate Region (WIR) of the National Association of Counties (NACo) in May of 2013 at WIR’s 2013 conference, hosted by Coconino County in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Martin finds it an honor to represent the 15-state region and is advancing an agenda consistent with WIR’s mission and his own deeply held beliefs concerning local government and public lands. “First, I want to listen,” said Martin, chair of the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. “Then, I have direct goals to accomplish, centering on encouraging outside-of-the-box thinking on how the federal government views some specific national lands issues.”
May 2011 – John Martin becomes 2nd vice president to the National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region.
—photo by Charles Taylor
Commissioner of the Year Award Colorado Counties, Inc
Dan Noble Award CLUB 20