Art Martinez de Vara

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Art Martinez de Vara
Mayor of Von Ormy, Texas
In office
November 4, 2008 – May 23, 2015
Personal details
Born (1975-04-29) April 29, 1975 (age 47)
Houston, Texas
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Marina Martinez de Vara
Alma materSt. Mary's University School of Law (J.D.)
Sam Houston State University (M.A.)
St. Mary's University (M.A.)
University of Colorado (B.A.)

Arturo (Art) Martinez de Vara (born April 29, 1975) is an American politician from Von Ormy, Texas.

Early life[edit]

Martinez de Vara was born in Houston on April 29, 1975. He is a graduate of DeBakey High School for Health Professions and attended the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, Martinez de Vara founded the internet service provider AustinNet. The company later merged and re-located to Denver, Colorado. He graduated in 2007 from University of Colorado, majoring in History. He later graduated from St. Mary's University Law School. He also holds two Master of Arts degrees, one in Theology and one in History. While in law school, he interned for the Hon. Xavier Rodriguez, U.S. district judge for the Western District of Texas.


In 2008, Martinez de Vara became the first Mayor of Von Ormy, Texas,[1] becoming one of the youngest mayors in the United States.

During his tenure there were consecutive annual tax cuts of 10% each leading to the elimination of property taxes in 2015.[2] The newly formed city embarked on a large master planning project immediately after the first council took office. The formation of the city of Von Ormy and its policies of reliance on consumption taxes and avoidance of restrictions on personal liberties was part of suburban city formation in Texas termed the "Liberty City Movement". [3]

During his tenure as mayor, Martinez de Vara’s sought to attract chain stores with the town’s low taxes. The primary issue which faced Martinez de Vara was the lack of a sewer system within Von Ormy. The San Antonio Water System informed town officials that a connection would cost $4 million to $5 million. City Administrator James Massey recommended floating a bond, but Martinez de Vara rejected the recommendation. The reasoning behind the rejection was likely due to libertarian ideologies behind the city, which is against the taking on of debt. “You want to be a liberty city? No taxes,” said a town official. “We could only afford to put in $500,000, if that, but where would we get the rest from?” The sewer system was never installed, and the town still relies on septic.[4]

Martinez de Vara promised that the property tax within Von Ormy would be eliminated altogether by 2015, a step he’d envisioned at the town’s inception. Three council members thought it was foolish to eliminate property taxes altogether, due to sales taxes rising and falling with the economy, because very few cities rely on sales taxes alone. In September 2014, Martinez de Vara had formally proposed zeroing out the property tax, but it was voted down in a 3–2 vote. However, to formally ratify the rate, per state law, at least four council members needed to hold another meeting to vote, but Sally Martinez and Debra Ivy refused to show up to any hearing with ratification on the agenda. The result: Martinez de Vara achieved his goal and the property tax rate was eliminated.[4]

Texas Legislature staff work[edit]

In 2011, Martinez de Vara served as Chief-of-Staff/Legislative Director for State Rep. John Garza, District 117, becoming the first sitting mayor to serve in the capacity in the Texas Legislature.[citation needed]

In 2014, Martinez de Vara was hired as Chief of Staff for Texas State Sen. Konni Burton.[5]

Electoral College[edit]

In the 2008 General Election, Martinez de Vara was elected as a Republican to serve in the Electoral College representing the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.[6]


Martinez de Vara is an amateur historian of Texas history and has been published in the Handbook of Texas, Encyclopedia of Texas Music and various periodicals.[7] His writings focus on early Tejano history and Jose Francisco Ruiz. He is the author of several books on Texas history, and won the 2014 Presidio La Bahia Award for The Jose Francisco Ruiz Papers, Vol. 1: Report on the Indian Tribes of Texas in 1818.[8][not in citation given] He was the recipient of a 2014 Texas State Genealogical Society Books Award for History and Records of Mission San Patricio de Bexar at Bexar, Texas.[9]


  1. "Election Results Media Report, November 4, 2008". Bexar County Elections. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  2. Aldridge, James (19 September 2012). "Von Ormy adopts property tax cut". San Antonio Business Journal. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  3. Gonzalez, John (4 March 2012). "Growth beyond cities to be explored". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 McCandless, James. "The Rise and Fall of the "Freest Little City in Texas"". Texas Observer.
  5. "Senator-Elect Burton Announces Top State Hires". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  6. "U.S. Electoral College". United States National Archives. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  7. "Art Martinez de Vara". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  8. "Winners of the Presidio La Bahia Award". Sons of the Republic of Texas. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  9. "2014 TSGS Awards; 3rd Place – Category: Non-Professional Historian". Texas State Genealogical Society. Retrieved 16 December 2014.

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