TULE RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION - When he talks about his professional love, his face brightens, his eyes widen and his cadence becomes rapid fire - the kind of thing that happens to speech when a person is passionate about what they do.
Rodney Martin, the newly appointed Tule River Tribal Council administrator, is not shy about how he feels about his job.
“I love what I do,” he said, the smile on his face punctuating his declaration. “This is where you make an impact on cities, towns and reservations. I've worked in government and I know you don't see the impact on the people you serve. I'd rather have real time here than show time there.”
If it's real time he wants, he has it.
Martin, 36, was appointed by the Tribal Council Aug. 20 and began work at the post Aug. 25. He spends long days overseeing tribal government affairs - long meaning from 6:30 or 7 a.m. and leaving “when I've accomplished what I needed to accomplish for the day.”
Federal, state and local government tenure are all part of the repertoire of Martin's experience and skill set. He has served in tribal government for 13 years, and came to the Tule River Indian Reservation from Yuma, Ariz., where he served on the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs.
He founded his economic and community development consulting firm in 2000 - specializing in inter-governmental relations - which he owned and operated until accepting his current position.
Martin took multitasking to new heights during that period, including accepting the position of Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs. His appointment was made by then-Arizona Gov. June D. Hull; he served a full three-year term.
The 1993 graduate of William Jewell University was awarded the Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson Congressional Fellowships, and was a congressional intern for Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor during that time.
“Just say he has a plethora of accomplishments, because it's true,” said Jennie Perez, his assistant. “His accomplishments are so many there is no way to list them all.”
Those accomplishments and experience won him the job, according Tribal Chairman Neal Peyron. Martin came to the tribe in August, but still had an integral part in completing a list of important projects, including restructuring tribal budgets.
“He burned the midnight oil on those budgets during the first two weeks he was here,” Peyron said. “I'm very pleased with the work he's done. We hired him partly because of his experience working with other tribes and his experience with planning and development. We have a lot of development here that we're doing, from housing to community buildings, our domestic water system and our current waste system.
“And his professionalism,” Peyron said. “He is very professional.”
Martin, as busy as he is in his professional life, is a dedicated family man. He has been married to his wife Peggy, an Eastern Cherokee, for 12 years. The couple has five children: Johnathan, 11, Justyn, 9, Abby, 8, Destiny, 8 and Ana, 4.
His personal life is made more complete when he can spend time with his family, whether it's camping, reading or enjoying a television movie together.
His job, however, consumes a large chunk of his day.
One of the accomplishments Martin is exceptionally pleased with is the establishment of the Tribal Police Department. The plan is to have five officers in the reservation community, which has a population of about 1,000.
The council currently contracts with the Tulare County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement. A collaborative arrangement will continue while the council builds its force.
Three officers have already been recruited, Martin said.
Porterville Adult School Superintendent Bob Perez was among those invited to the Dec. 15 public safety ceremony, where those in attendance were updated on the new law enforcement program. It was there he met Martin.
Perez has been supportive of and involved with the tribe since the 1970s, he said.
“They have worked for a long time for people on the reservation and southeastern Tulare County as a whole,” Perez said. “As a sovereign nation they are self-sustaining, but continue to reach out beyond the reservation. They are a major contributor socially and economically to their community and outside of it.
“I'm sure Rod [Martin] will contribute greatly,” Perez said. “I met him and I was very pleased with his knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to the Tribal Council and the reservation community. I think he will be an excellent link to southeastern Tulare County, which includes Porterville, Springville and surrounding areas.”
Contact Anita Stackhouse-Hite at 784-5000, Ext. 1043, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was published in The Porterville Recorder on Jan. 12, 2007