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Miami-Dade commission chairman bids farewell

Joe Martinez chaired his final Miami-Dade commission meeting Thursday, departing with brief remarks praising public servants and a standing ovation.

Before a packed commission chambers, Martinez stood up and took the microphone shortly before the lunch break to thank the community and county workers.

"Thank you so much for everything you've done," he said. Then, pointing to the dais, he added: "If you deliver excellence every day, it's in spite of what we do up here."

"Don't let anybody tell you you're not worth what you make," Martinez continued. "People take government services for granted."

Martinez, who did not seek reelection to challenge Mayor Carlos Gimenez, lost his mayoral bid in August. His successor, former state rep. Juan C. Zapata, will be sworn in on Nov. 20.

After thanking employees, Martinez, who was first elected in 2000, turned to his dais colleagues.

"For you guys -- it's been interesting working with you," he said. "It's been fun."

He joked that he would not have attended the meeting had he known he would be on the losing side of several morning votes: "To get your ass kicked, I would have stayed home!"

And he noted he will continue serving as chairman until Nov. 20 -- including setting the agenda for that day's meeting and organizing the swearing-in ceremony for new and reelected officials.

Then he said he did not want commissioners taking turns to bid him farewell one by one. 

"It's the way I want to go out," he said, with a catch in his voice.

He received a standing ovation as he walked out of the room.