Former state Representative, John L. Martin, will address the graduates at the University of Maine at Fort Kent’s 131st Commencement on Saturday, May 18 in the University’s Sports Center. Representative Martin also will receive an honorary doctorate degree during the ceremonies.
Martin is widely-acknowledged throughout the state of Maine as one of the most influential public servants of the past 100 years.
Born in Eagle Lake in June 1941, Martin attended local schools and received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Government from the University of Maine at Orono in 1963 where he later did advanced graduate study in Political Science.
An assistant professor of Political Science and Government at UMFK since 1977, Martin last year was named director of the University’s Center for Rural Sustainable Development. The Center’s mission is to guide sustainability efforts by providing academic resources and quality information for improving lives and livelihoods and safeguarding cultural and natural heritage for the future.
Martin was first elected to the Maine state House of Representatives in 1964. Among Martin’s earliest political mentors and role models were his late uncle, Claude Martin, himself a state representative, and President John F. Kennedy.
Martin served an unprecedented 10 terms as Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. John later served in the state Senate from 2000 to 2008 before returning to the House, representing the towns of Allagash, Ashland, Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, St. Francis, and Wallagrass, as well as the plantations of Garfield, Nashville, St. John and Winterville, and the unorganized territory of northwest Aroostook County.
During his years in the state legislature, Representative Martin cemented his position as a political force within Maine, and beyond. He counts the state legislature’s passage of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway statute in 1966, which established the Allagash as America’s first federally-protected, state-managed Wild river, as among the most significant during his legislative career.
Martin served in numerous capacities within the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Foundation for State Legislatures, the Democratic State Legislative Leaders Association, and within the Democratic National Committee. Martin served as chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Commission in 1969, and from 1970 to 1972 he was chairman of the Land Use Regulation Commission.
Prior to becoming Speaker in 1975, Martin served on the Joint Standing Committees on Taxation, State Government, and Appropriations and Financial Affairs. He was elected Minority Floor Leader in 1971 and served in that position prior to becoming Speaker. He later served as the chair of the Legislative Council in 1989 and 1990.
Martin is a member of the New England Political Science Association and the American Academy of Political Science. He served as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures from 1990 to 1991; chairman of the State-Federal Assembly of NCSL in 1985 and 1986; vice chair of NCSL’s Budget, Fiscal & Rules Committee in 1986 and 1987; and, chair of the Task Force on Reapportionment in 1987 and 1988.
Martin has been a member of the Board of the Foundation for State Legislatures and he served as vice chair of the Regional Executive Committee of the Democratic State Legislative Leaders Association.
In 1990, Martin was elected Chair of the State Democratic Leaders Association and served on both the Democratic National Committee and the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee. He was president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation from 1979 to 1982 and chairman of the New England Caucus of State Legislatures in 1982 and 1983.
Martin’s many community activities include serving as treasurer of Northern Maine General Hospital, a non-profit organization which operates the Eagle Lake Nursing Home and the Eagle Lake Boarding Home. He also is president of Ambulance Services Inc., and is president of Fish River Rural Health Centers in Eagle Lake and Fort Kent.