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
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
My priorities for Cambridge
fall into three categories which are further outlined on my website at www.brianmurphy.org:
Healthier, safer, more
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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.
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: www.brianmurphy.org
You can also read more in-depth information on the issues in my
Progressive Democrats of Cambridge Candidate Questionnaire: