Rey Martinez and Craig Newton will forever be linked by last week’s mayoral elections. The two mayor-elects, Martinez in Loganville and Newton in Norcross, are Gwinnett County’s first two non-white mayors.
Census numbers show the county is now majority-minority with 60 percent of residents being Asian, Black, or Hispanic.
Martinez, who is Cuban-American, saw his victory in Loganville as a win for minorities.
“Let me tell you it’s an honor and I’m very grateful because at the end of the day it’s not about me,” Martinez said. “It’s about the next generation of Hispanics.”
He moved to Miami at the age of 8 and has called Loganville home for 10 years.
Across the county in Norcross, Craig Newton, who’s African-American, said his race had little to do with his victory.
“I don’t discount the historic relevance of my election, but I feel that I was elected because of my experience,” he said.
His experience includes nearly two decades on the Norcross City Council, which might explain why he ran unopposed and had a low-key campaign.
“I actually went out to several homes and to several groups and talked to them about why I wanted to become mayor,” Newton said.
For his part, Martinez had competition. He ran against the wife of a former mayor and said he visited every subdivision.
“No doubt in my mind that I credit myself for galvanizing the vote,” Martinez said. “I went out there and knocked on so many homes.”
Martinez was known in the city as a big supporter of Donald Trump. He said he had to convince some residents that his party affiliation was irrelevant in this non-partisan mayor’s race.
“At the end of the day, it’s your community as much as it is mine,” Martinez said he told residents. “And you’re voting for a man that has passion for this city.”
Despite their different routes to victory, both Martinez and Newton said improving their city’s downtown was a top priority.