Leigh Martinez is the multimedia journalist covering the San Joaquin Valley.
Previously, Leigh was the weekend anchor at KGET 17 in Bakersfield and spent three years covering the San Joaquin Valley for KXTV News 10.
During her news career, Leigh had the first in-depth look into Stockton’s gangs, gaining unprecedented access with the city’s Crips and Nortenos. She also covered Stockton’s bankruptcy, the Speed Freak serial killers, and produced a two-part investigation into Heroin addiction.
Leigh is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, who served in the Republic of Armenia from 2006-2008 teaching English. She also worked for USAID teaching journalism at Yerevan University.
Leigh is an adventure sport enthusiast. She’s climbed the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome at night to see the sunrise, bungee jumped in Jackson, CA, went sky-diving in outside of Philadelphia, scuba dived in Egypt’s Red Sea, she hiked the Na Pali Coast Trail in Kauai, wind surfed in Alameda, and climbed a volcano in Costa Rica. Next on her bucket list are dark water rafting in New Zealand’s glow worm caves and hang gliding in Northern California.
Getting Answers with Leigh Martinez
1) How long have you lived in Northern California? I moved here in 2010, then moved to Bakersfield for 10 months starting in 2013. Now I’m back!
2) Where are you from originally? Camden County, New Jersey.
3) Do you have any siblings? I had a younger brother Jared, who was a U.S. Marine, an artist, and my best friend. He was a great man and everyone loved him.
4) Do you have any pets? I love big dogs, but don’t have my own yet. Growing up, we had a goldadore (golden retriever, yellow lab mix).
5) iPhone or Android? Android, but I may get an iPhone for backup.
6) What’s your favorite app? MyFitnessPal
7) What’s your favorite thing about working in news? I’m never lonely and I get to help people tell their stories.
8) What’s your favorite book? Russka, the History of Russia by Edward Rutherfurd. I have a fascination with Russia and this book is historic fiction spanning 1,800 years of Russia’s history, politics, and culture.
9) What’s your favorite movie? Braveheart
10) What’s your favorite TV show? Game of Thrones
11) Who is your favorite band? Rancid
12) What’s your favorite concert you’ve ever been to? Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee 2010.
13) What’s the one thing about you that would surprise us? I adore alpacas and llamas. Someday, I hope to have an alpaca ranch.
14) What’s your favorite past time? Traveling to extraordinary places not many people know about.
15) If you could drive any car what would it be? Tesla Model S
16) Who’s the person you most admire? My mom. I wish I was half the woman she is.
17) What’s your favorite quote? “Actions speak louder than words.”
18) What’s the one place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been to before? Oh wow, there are too many to narrow it down to one. I definitely would like to explore Russia and take the Trans Siberian Railroad, and I want to swim in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls in Zambia.
19) What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited? Armenia! It’s the most magical place. It’s like stepping into another world with it’s ancient culture, vaulted stone monasteries, villages built in the most remote places, and the friendliest people.
20) Who’s your favorite actor/actress? Christopher Walken and Angelina Jolie
21) What do you do for exercise? Heavy weightlifting in NPC bodybuilding fitness training.
22) What’s your favorite area restaurant? Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe in Lodi. Amazing sandwiches!
23) What food could you not live without? Peanut butter.
24) What’s your favorite Northern California attraction? Yosemite’s Half Dome
25) Where’s the strangest/farthest place you’ve been recognized? I’m not that big of a deal, but news viewers go grocery shopping and occasionally say hello to me.
26) At what age did you decide you were interested in news? I was a kid wanting to be TV reporter April O’Neill from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.
Leigh’s recent stories
- Small Businesses In Old Folsom Combining Efforts For Small Business SaturdayTime is up for Black Friday shopping, but you'll need to set your alarm again to shop on small business Saturday.
- Woman Battling Cancer Struggling To Rebuild After Denair TornadoBailey is on chemotherapy for Stage 3 breast cancer. She hasn’t been able to rest well since last week when a surprise tornado touched down in Denair and blasted into her home.
- Farmers Hope To Divert Potential El Nino Floodwaters To Irrigate Crops Before They BloomA few Central Valley farmers are hoping to get their crops underwater this winter with a little help from El Nino.
- Thieves Break Into Coloma Post Office Before Holiday RushThe foothills town of Coloma is home to only 200 people, and not many people come into town. In its heyday, explorers came hoping to strike gold.
- Community Rallies To Help Couple Who Lost Home To Denair TornadoMany people lost trees, several lost their roofs, but while most people in Denair will still be home for the holidays, Zand Woodard will not.
- Stockton Shelter Experimenting With Moving Dogs To Neighborhoods For AdoptionShelter workers say they have a lot of dogs that will make great pets, but the problem is you won't know that unless you come to the shelter.
- Homeless Men Sue Manteca Over New Ordinances, Claiming DiscriminationThe lawsuit claims the city’s new ordinances making being homeless a crime, “with the discriminatory purpose of driving the homeless from the city.”
- City Hall Exodus? Nearly Half Of Manteca’s Staff Eligible To Retire In JanuaryAmong them is City Manager Karen McLaughlin, who has already announced her Jan. 31 retirement. She’s one of many Baby Boomers well represented at City Hall.
- Will Santa Ride A Fire Truck Or A Garbage Truck During The Lodi Parade Of Lights?Two city departments in Lodi have been fighting over who gets Santa Claus in the annual parade, but peace appears to be on the way.
- Turlock Boy, 7, Spends Day As City’s Honorary MayorIt was a school assembly everyone knew about except one student: Koran.
- Soccer Ban On Headshots For Kids Not Seen As DetrimentThe governing body ruled on Monday that players 10 years old and younger can no longer head the ball after a lawsuit related to concussions.
- School District May Not Be Able To Remove Superintendent After Second DUI ArrestJeremy Meyers wasn’t at his desk on Thursday afternoon. Instead deputies say he was drunk behind the wheel when he crashed into what used to be a large utility box.
- Lodi Named Wine Region Of The Year By Wine EnthusiastThe city beat Napa Valley, France, Spain and Italy in a year when California dried up, water was restricted and hail pummeled buds.
- CSU Faculty Strike Likely Not Until At Least MarchTeachers advise students to register for their spring classes, but be prepared for a campus shutdown.
- Sacramento Organ Transplant Lists Growing Faster Than Available DonorsIn the Sacramento Valley, 1,300 people need lifesaving transplants. Sierra Donor Services spokeswoman Angela Brooks says there may be several reasons for the demand in organ donation.
- Elk Grove Renter Has Their Power Cut Due To Home’s HistorySandra Johnson found what she thought was the perfect house to rent in Elk Grove. But after one year there, she's forced to move out because the house has a history that's haunting it.
- Manteca Worries New Bass Pro Shop In San Jose Could Leech Away CustomersVirginia Camacho with the Manteca Visitors and Convention Center was nervous the new locations would pull customers away.
- Denair Senior Makes History As School’s First Transgender CheerleaderHer hard work paid off as she made the team’s varsity cheerleading squad. But soon after, she made a decision that would also make history in Denair.
- Despite Colin Kaepernick’s Recent Struggles, Turlock Stands Behind Its Hometown SonAt Olde Tyme Pastries, his photos are still displayed, and the No. 7 jersey cookie still sells out on game days.
- As Hurricane Patricia Hits, Families Worry Loved Ones May Not Escape Its Wrath In TimeDebbie Hernandez’s aunt and two cousins live in Manzanillo, and she couldn’t reach them by phone on Thursday night.