Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy
2005 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
22 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Contact information:
Telephone (617) 492-7426

Send contributions to:
Friends of Brian Murphy
P.O. Box 380424
Cambridge, MA 02238

A pragmatic progressive, Brian Murphy has been fighting for the people of Cambridge as a city councillor since 2002. He is determined to get results, passionate about progressive issues, and committed to bringing people together to implement positive solutions to city challenges. Brian believes in establishing tough, realistic, measurable goals - and in holding our elected and appointed officials accountable for achieving those goals on behalf on the entire Cambridge community.

Brian is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School. He is a long-time community activist, an attorney, and has been active in local, state, and national Democratic political organizing for over twenty-five years. Brian and his wife, Kate Champion Murphy have two children, Molly and Joseph.

Brian is a member of:
Cambridge Democratic City Committee, ACLU, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, MassPIRG, MassBike, and ACE- Alternatives for Community and Environment

Endorsements for 2005 (as of Sept. 30th):
State Senator Jarrett Barrios, Massachusetts Sierra Club, National Organization for Women - Greater Boston Chapter, Progressive Democrats of Cambridge, Greater Boston Labor Council AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 509, SEIU Local 615, Laborers Local 151, Boston Carmens Union Local 589, Carpenters Local 40, Sheet Metal Workers Local 17, Teamsters Local 25, Pipefitters Local 537, Pile Drivers Local 56, IBEW Local 2222, Steelworkers Local 2431, Plumbers Local 12, IUPAT District Council 35

Top Priorities:

My priorities for Cambridge fall into three categories which are further outlined on my website at

  1. Healthier, safer, more livable neighborhoods

  2. Responsible, progressive fiscal solutions

  3. Defending our rights locally and nationally

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
It is vitally important for all of us to preserve elements of our neighborhood life that make Cambridge livable and attractive for all of us. I believe we should be able to do much of our daily life on foot, which means neighborhoods need access to essential small businesses, as well as safe neighborhoods that offer a sense of community and development that fosters vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods. Strong, safe, accessible neighborhoods are one of my top priorities for Cambridge.

  • I organized the Cambridge Common Safety Walk last year that brought city police, residents, and public safety officials together to collectively seek out ways to make the neighborhood safer. It is essential that we continue these walks in neighborhoods throughout Cambridge.
  • After years of unreliable service that left many neighborhoods feeling unsafe, we recently won the fight to buy back our street lights from NSTAR.
  • We need to ensure safety for all our pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and children. I organized the city Bicycle Safety Tour, submitted testimony this year in support of the state Bicyclist's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and I work with the city to encourage and implement bicycle and pedestrian safety initiatives.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
Ease of use, safety, and predictability are some of the factors that influence use of public transportation.

  • I filed a council order to work with the MBTA to increase the number of bus shelters in the city.
  • I recently requested that the MBTA do a better job of marking bus numbers.
  • We have increased the number of covered bus stops and obtained more comprehensive maps at many stops.
  • The erratic availability of the elevators for Harvard and Central Square stations is disgraceful. The City Council has and will continue to pressure the MBTA to expand handicapped accessibility in both T and bus stations.
  • I support and will push for 24 hour weekend MBTA service.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
I am passionate about progressive, responsible municipal finance. I am chair of the city Finance Committee, Vice-Chair of the National League of Cities Panel on Municipal Finance, and I sit on the Finance Committee of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. I also chair the Special Committee on the Property Tax charged with seeking out both short and long term solutions to rising property taxes.

It is a permanent challenge to lead the city forward yet remain fiscally disciplined. As Chair of the Finance Committee, I am responding to the pressure of property taxes on our residents, and I took an aggressive approach to managing the impact of these trends on this year's rates. We passed a lean 2006 budget that ensured that this year we will no increase in the property tax levy, without cutting the quality of our essential services.

I hate the property tax: it's regressive, and hurts long-time residents who simply want to stay in their homes. Unfortunately, state law forbids Cambridge from using more equitable alternatives. I'm fighting to change that, but it will be a long, tough battle against entrenched interests at the state level.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
Development, university expansion, and the skyrocketing costs of housing are destabilizing our neighborhoods and changing the character of the city. I am working to counter the destructive effects of these trends, and to create a regulatory and policy framework that allows expansion only when it benefits and protects the surrounding community. Development in Cambridge should always be approached within the context of the neighborhood it will join.

I have been working with members of the Porter Square community, Agassiz Neighborhood Council, and Neighborhood Nine to confront Mass. Ave development that threatens local business, as well as at the Long's funeral home site. I also have been fighting for the neighborhoods surrounding Mount Auburn Hospital as they work collaboratively with the hospital to find common ground on their development proposal.

Too often, neighborhoods find themselves on the defensive, reacting to institutional development proposals with too little time and information. I am committed to ensuring that Cambridge residents have the time and resources they need to help plan and shape development in their neighborhoods.

Human Services Programs:
Cambridge takes seriously its commitment to provide resources and opportunities for our most vulnerable residents. This means we often pick up the financial slack when funding for human service programs is cut by federal and state administrations. One area where we could expand upon city programming is after school programming for middle-school aged youth.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
One of our city's most important missions is to defend our precious open space. I am committed to protecting our existing open space, and as co-chair of the Ordinance Committee, I was successful in securing a new park in the Riverside neighborhood during downzoning negotiations last year.

I have also been chairing community meetings designed to explore locations and facilities for off-leash dog runs. I am committed to finding safe places for dogs to run free in Cambridge, because I believe dog runs will help make our communities both safer and more cohesive.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Health care costs are a personal, local, state, and federal issue. Double-digit increases in health care costs threaten our ability to provide quality services at a reasonable rate. I am on the National League of Cities Health Care Task Force, where I collaborate with local and national municipal leaders to seek out results-oriented public health and preventative medicine initiatives that can lower costs without sacrificing quality of care.

  • I recently introduced legislation that will start moving all Cambridge schools towards stricter compliance with Integrated Pest Management guidelines to prevent our children from exposure to harmful pesticides.
  • I support requiring and enforcing new city and university construction to comply with ‘green building’ LEED standards.
  • I support statewide legislation that encourages healthier lunch choices for our public schools.
  • I introduced legislation to ensure that Cambridge did not knowingly purchase from vendors who will profit from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Through service on the Council's Health and Environment Committee, I worked with Harvard, MIT and the city on ways to increase recycling rates and, in public testimony, I have challenged the state legislature to expand the bottle bill so that it includes bottled water and similar products.

The affordable housing problem in Cambridge is truly a housing emergency. The price of housing in Cambridge has skyrocketed in recent years.

  • I voted to allocate the maximum 80% of Community Preservation Funds - over $19 million - for affordable housing.
  • I work to strengthen the city's linkage and inclusionary zoning ordinances to build more affordable units.
  • As artists begin to get priced out of living, studio and gallery space, we are in danger of losing an important part of what makes Cambridge special. I support the reuse of vacant commercial buildings as live-in studios for artists. This type of creative reuse would not only provide additional affordable housing stock, but would also help us maintain the vibrancy of the Cambridge cultural community.
  • In order to pursue this idea and similar innovative approaches to the housing issue, we need to engage the participation of younger renters, including working professionals and students, in the political process surrounding this issue.

Arts and Public Celebrations:
Cambridge wouldn't be Cambridge without its artists. But in times of tight budgets, governments often make their first and deepest cuts in funding for the arts. From an economic standpoint, this can be a misguided strategy. As Richard Florida noted in The Rise of the Creative Class, diversity, tolerance and a thriving arts community are all important elements in assuring that a community thrives and prospers. As artists begin to get priced out of living, studio and gallery space, we are in danger of losing an important part of what makes Cambridge special. To this end, I support creative reuse of public buildings as affordable live/work space for artists. I am chair of the Public Facilities, Arts, and Celebrations Committee and a sponsor of neighborhood and community-focused programs such as ArtsCentral and the regional Open Studios.

University Relations:
Harvard, MIT, Lesley, and Cambridge College help define Cambridge as a unique, sophisticated, and richly diverse community, but institutional expansion can undermine the character and livability of our neighborhoods. Our universities need to remember that the vitality and excitement of Cambridge contribute significantly to their ability to attract students and faculty. Cambridge's residents and workers share a common stake in assuring that university expansion does not overrun our community nor destroy the character of our neighborhoods.

I am working with colleges and universities to develop tangible, lasting community benefits whenever they expand their presence. These include meaningful public open space; affordable- and moderate- income housing for community members; restrictions on density, height and use of new buildings; and, of course, traffic and parking policies that are sensitive to neighborhood concerns.

Civic Participation:
In his book “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam noted the fraying of our social fabric as Americans belong to fewer organizations and are increasingly disconnected from their families, neighbors and communities. Cambridge is not immune from this phenomenon, but we must strive to resist and reverse this trend. Neighbors need to get to know neighbors, and neighborhood block parties help. I support continuation and expansion of mini grants for residents who are willing to organize these block parties. Community wide events like the Cambridge Dance Party in front of City Hall and Danehy Park Family Day also help to bring residents together.

Cambridge Public Schools:
We have unique strengths in our diversity and civic participation and it is absolutely imperative that we defend and support our public school system. I support the school committee and Superintendent Fowler-Finn in their efforts to close the achievement gap.

As Finance Chair, I worked with the superintendent and School Committee to ensure our education spending in the 2005-2006 budgets focused resources in a results-driven and student-focused way. We increased spending directly on students and in the classroom by reducing administration and operations costs. I am currently working with Superintendent Fowler-Finn and the School Committee on a five-year finance plan that will expand resources where most needed.

Cambridge also has an excellent City scholarship program. I will work with the high schools to encourage an increased number of applications we receive each year. I was recently successful at increasing the financial amount of each scholarship, as well as doubling their duration, from one year to two.

Please visit my website for more information: 

You can also read more in-depth information on the issues in my Progressive Democrats of Cambridge Candidate Questionnaire: 

Page last updated July 01, 2007 Cambridge Candidates