Melquiades Rafael Martinez Biography
Melquiades Rafael MartinezGeorge W. Bush's first secretary for Housing and Urban Development
Birthplace: Sagua La Grande, Cuba
Cuban-born Martinez came to the United States in 1962, as a participant in an airlift operation in which about 14,000 Cuban children entered the country in the early 1960s. Martinez was elected chairman of Orange County, Fla., in 1998. Prior to that, he served as president of the Orlando Utilities Commission from 1994 to 1997, while maintaining a private law practice. In early 2000, he proposed placing a moratorium on new construction in cities in Orlando County where overcrowding was compromising the quality of life for residents. Builders were outraged and are fighting the proposal. Martinez resigned his post as HUD secretary in December 2003, possibly with White House urging, to seek retiring Florida Sen. Bob Graham's seat.