Longest-current serving at-Large City Councilor says there is more to do

Stephen Murphy at a hearing on the Boston Police contract.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Stephen Murphy at a hearing on the Boston Police contract.

When five of his colleagues jumped in the race for mayor earlier this year, Stephen J. Murphy held back.

“There were too many of my neighbors running,’’ he said, joking one morning at breakfast at Gerard’s cafe in Adams Village. “It would have been shootout on a lifeboat.’’

The mayor’s job would seem like a natural progression for Murphy, whose 16-year tenure on the City Council makes him the longest serving at-large councilor currently in office. And he had thought about jumping in.


Now, as Boston is set for new political leadership in the mayor’s office and on the council, Murphy, 57, plans to stay put.

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Murphy, who has been under fire for the council’s deliberate approach as it weighs whether to support a substantial police pay hike, said there is plenty more work left to do.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time making contributions to this city,’’ Murphy said. “I still get a sense of good feeling to be able go on and make a difference on an issue, whether it is a big issue or a little issue. It still gives me some satisfaction.”

Born in Dorchester, Murphy and his three other siblings grew up in Hyde Park. His mother was a teacher’s aide and his father was a police officer and lawyer.

He graduated from Boston Latin School in 1975 and Stonehill College four years later. While in college, Murphy drove special-needs students to school for a company called Autobus Inc. He stayed on after college and worked his way up to general manager and then vice president. When the company was sold, Murphy went into public service, working first as a budget analyst in the state Senate president’s office, where his speciality was local aid.


In the 1990s, as an executive assistant in the attorney general’s office and served as assistant personnel director in the secretary of state’s office from 1993-1995.

On the council, where he has been since 1997, his peers have elected him to three terms as president, a powerful position that gives him greater visibility and a big platform to champion key issues. Under the city charter, the president is called upon to perform the duties of the mayor if the office is vacant or the mayor is unable to perform.

Murphy has held other key positions, serving on the public safety, ways and means, and government operations committees. In 2005, he a cosponsored a council push to revamp the Criminal Offender Record Information system. The bill was taken up by the Legislature, and caught the attention of Deval Patrick who had been campaigning for governor. Eventually, CORI reform passed.

Murphy also cites as accomplishments working to overhaul the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which allows the city to collect large payments from such nonprofits as hospitals and colleges.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.