Gwinnett County officially has its first-ever Latino mayor.
Rey Martinez, a business owner and former city councilman, was sworn in Thursday night as the new mayor of Loganville. The city is split between Gwinnett and Walton counties.
Gwinnett County is one of the most diverse communities in the state and in the entire Southeast but, until November, none of its municipalities had ever elected a non-white mayor.
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Martinez, who was born in Puerto Rico to parents of Cuban descent, earned his spot as Gwinnett’s first Latino mayor after beating opponent Donna B. Jones in November’s election. Craig Newton, who was sworn in last week as the city of Norcross’ new leader, is Gwinnett’s first black mayor.
Martinez, a 48-year-old father of two and U.S. Navy veteran, served most of two terms as a Loganville city councilman before stepping down to run for mayor. He made a statewide name for himself in 2016 by being a vocal supporter of then-candidates Donald Trump and Mike Pence and organizing the candidates’ “Latino coalition” in Georgia.
“If my message, if my win here could inspire at least one Hispanic out there,” Martinez said in a November interview, “it’s been worth it.”
Gwinnett has been a minority-majority county, meaning it has more non-white residents than white ones, since at least 2010. U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2016 suggest that black, Latino and Asian residents make up about 61 percent of Gwinnett’s more than 900,000 residents.
More than 20 percent of all Gwinnettians are Latino.
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