2015 Public Servant of the Year: Jack Martilotta

Greenport played Hampton Bays at Hampton Bays High School on October 3rd, 2015.Daniel De Mato

Throughout his adult life, Greenport’s Jack Martilotta has heard the call to service and responded each time.

To the North Fork’s youth, he is a beloved science teacher at Greenport High School and a coach and mentor for the area’s football team. To his neighbors, he is a devoted family man and deputy mayor of the village, taking on the responsibility of rehabilitating the tumultuous image of Greenport’s building department after a landslide victory in the November elections.

And to his country, Mr. Martilotta is a selfless servant. He joined the armed forces in the wake of 9/11, was deployed to Iraq in 2005-06 and still serves as an honored sergeant in the National Guard, at times having to leave his wife and three young children to serve.

“The guy pours a ton of time into making his town, his state and his country a better place,” said fellow village Trustee Doug Roberts, who was elected this year alongside Mr. Martilotta. “He’s just the full package.”

For his tireless dedication to service across every level of his community, Jack Martilotta is The Suffolk Times’ 2015 Public Servant of the Year.

“A more appropriate person could not be found,” said Southold and Greenport school Superintendent David Gamberg. “His dedication and commitment speak volumes to his character and the kind of person he is, day in and day out.”

Mr. Martilotta is a North Fork native, having grown up in nearby Mattituck. After graduating from Bates College in Maine with a degree in biology, he took a job with IBM in New York City.

But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 changed everything. Mr. Martilotta enlisted in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq.

It was there that he realized his true calling. In a 2010 interview, Mr. Martilotta explained that his epiphany came in 2005, while he was stationed in a guard tower just outside Sadr City, near Baghdad.

He said he didn’t want to spend his life doing something he didn’t enjoy.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to be a teacher,” he said. “I wanted to have a positive impact on the world, and I thought I could do it by teaching.”

(Credit: Bill Landon, file)
(Credit: Bill Landon, file)

After returning from his deployment, Mr. Martilotta went back to school, this time at Dowling College for science education. He was hired by the Greenport school district and moved to Greenport, where he’s now raising his family.

“He certainly fits the profile of the Greenport family,” Mr. Gamberg said.

Mr. Martilotta also remained active with the armed services and is now a first sergeant with the National Guard’s artillerymen of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry. At the 2015 annual St. Barbara’s Day dinner, the artillery community honored him as one of six outstanding members of the National Guard artillerymen.

In 2009, Mr. Martilotta ran unsuccessfully for a spot on the Greenport Village Board. Mr. Roberts, who became fast friends with Mr. Martilotta after the two moved back to the North Fork, said they discussed running again for nearly a year before both throwing their hats into the ring in 2015.

“We became a pretty good team,” Mr. Roberts said. “He had a really deep operational understanding of how things get done. I could put out a big idea and he would fill in how we could actually execute it … It’s an honor working with him.”

Mr. Martilotta was the top vote-getter in the race, beating out incumbent David Murray and local resident William Swiskey for one of two open seats. Incoming Mayor George Hubbard Jr. immediately made Mr. Martilotta his deputy mayor.

Jack Martilotta is sworn in as a Village Trustee last year. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)
Jack Martilotta is sworn in as a Village Trustee last year. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

The decision, he said, was due to Mr. Martilotta’s military background. The mayor wanted structure on the upcoming board — something he said Mr. Martilotta has helped bring.

In addition, Mr. Martilotta has taken on the job of reforming the village’s building department, working to reorganize processes to make sure each resident is treated equally.

“It’s a big undertaking for him, but I think he’s going to do well with it,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Many of Mr. Martilotta’s students know him as head coach of the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team, Mr. Gamberg said — a role Mr. Martilotta first took on in 2010. Twice, Mr. Martilotta led the team to the playoffs, and he was honored by the New York Giants football team as a Coach of the Week following a perfect start to the 2013 season.

Mr. Martilotta left his coaching position last year, when Mike Buck, a former NFL quarterback who coached Bishop McGann-Mercy in 2014, took over.

“He was stepping away from the glory and the credit and the limelight,” Mr. Roberts said.

Mr. Martilotta stayed on as a defensive coordinator, despite mounting responsibilities as a village trustee. When Mr. Buck abruptly resigned, having applied for a teaching position at the school that ultimately went to someone else, Mr. Martilotta offered to become a coach again “without batting an eyelash,” Mr. Gamberg said.

“He stepped back in to help the kids,” Mr. Roberts added. “That’s the kind of teacher he is.”

But Mr. Gamberg, himself a previous Suffolk Times Person of the Year, hopes that more students learn about the other ways Mr. Martilotta volunteers and works for his community. Maybe they’ll be inspired by his service to become informed and engaged citizens too, he said.

“[Mr. Martilotta’s] dedication as a public servant speaks to his view about what it means to be a citizen,” Mr. Gamberg said. “The kids will see that. He’s a great role model.”

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Previous Winners

2014 — Ted Webb
2013 — Heather Lanza
2012 — Ed Romaine
2011 — Greenport and Southold Highway Department Crews
2010 — Leslie Weisman
2009 — Betty Neville
2008 — Thomas Crowley
2007 — Philip Beltz
2006 — Jesse Wilson
2005 — Martin Flatley
2004 — Mattituck-Cutchogue School Board
2003 — Ben Orlowski Jr.
2002 — Jack Sherwood
2001 — Dave Abatelli
2000 — Melissa Spiro
1999 — Valerie Scopaz
1998 — Jamie Mills
1997 — Karen McLaughlin
1996 — Lisa Israel
1995 — John Costello
1994 — Ray Jacobs
1993 — Judy Terry
1992 — William Pell
1991 — Beth Wilson
1990 — Antonia Booth
1989 — Frank Murphy
1988 — Venetia McKeighan
1987 — Paul Stoutenburgh