State Rep. Marin praised for paving the way for Latinos at the Georgia Capitol as he plans his exit

Georgia State Capitol on mostly sunny day

by Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]

January 26, 2024

State Rep. Pedro “Pete” Marin walked into the state Capitol two decades ago as part of a trio of history-making newly elected Latino lawmakers.

Marin said he felt the weight of the moment as he, former Lilburn Republican Rep. David Casas and former Atlanta Democratic Sen. Sam Zamarripa became Georgia’s first Latino lawmakers. 

“It was a watershed moment in the history of Georgia politics,” Marin said. “No longer were Latinos going to be talked about in this building but spoken to as colleagues who can offer insight to an emerging community of parents, students, professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, workers, dreamers and voters.” 

The Duluth Democrat who is from Puerto Rico announced his retirement at a press conference held Thursday at the state Capitol that was a celebration of both Marin’s time in office and the growing clout of the state’s Latino community.

Today, Marin is part of a Hispanic legislative caucus that now includes seven lawmakers from both chambers and parties. John King, a Republican who serves as the state insurance commissioner, became the first Hispanic official to be elected statewide in 2022.

“I’m so glad to have witnessed the political evolution of Latinos in Georgia,” Marin said. “In 2003, I had no idea what the future had in store for me – for us. I just knew I had to do my part. I had to withstand the taunts and threats from a minority of people who were afraid to see Georgia eventually become home to over 1 million Latinos. They were afraid of change. I was afraid of change not coming at all.

“Today I can say with great pride I stood there holding the line until others came to take my place,” he said.

The Gwinnett County lawmaker said he will not seek another term after 22 years, saying it is time to give “new blood” a chance to serve. All state House and Senate seats are up for reelection this year. 

The accolades for the moderate Democrat known for seeking consensus poured in as news of Marin’s retirement spread. Gov. Brian Kemp, House Speaker Jon Burns, Congresswoman Nikema Williams and others hailed him as a trailblazer.

“As one of the first-elected and longest-serving Latino representatives in our state’s history, Rep. Marin has not only been a trailblazer for Latino representation under the Gold Dome, but a champion for ensuring all diverse and underrepresented communities have a voice in the halls of power,” said Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia. 

King, the state’s insurance commissioner, said Marin has a knack for bringing together diverse groups of people in pursuit of a common goal.

“On behalf of all of those lives you have touched, enriched, empowered, we say thank you,” King said at the Thursday press conference. “Rep. Pedro Marin, your journey is a testament to the profound impact one individual can have in shaping a more inclusive, just and compassionate society.” 

State Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Dallas Republican who chairs the Hispanic legislative caucus, called Marin a “titan” in the Latino community and credited him with “paving the way for so many Latino elected officials in Georgia.”

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