Iris Martinez

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b. February 25, 1956

Illinois, State Senator (2003-)
Majority Caucus Whip Illinois, 5th District Democratic State Central Committeewoman (1990-)

The vanguard of a "second wave" growing Latino political influence in the city, Iris Martinez was backed by then Ald. Richard Mell against then-30th Ward Committeeman Michael Wojick, one of the last Northwest Side Polish politicians. Winning her race handily, Martinez settled in as one of the top Latinos backed by Mell and became a major player in the State Senate.

The apple cart was upset in 2008, however, when Mell decided to appoint his daughter, Deb Mell to then-State Rep. Richard Bradley's State Rep. seat. Bradley squawked, and Mell then decided to back Bradley against Martinez for State Senate, since she had not been seen as compliant enough to Mell's wishes. A major political battle emerged, however, with Martinez enlisting State Senate President Emil Jones, Jr.'s support and Bradley with Mell's support. Ultimately, Martinez' name recognition carried the day, winning her election against Bradley.

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