Erin Murphy, who pledged to voters that she will be their “go-to call at City Hall,” had the first of her two City Council swearing-in ceremonies last week, as she took the oath to fill the vacancy created by Michelle Wu’s ascension to the mayor’s office.
On Wednesday, Wu administered the oath to Murphy, a 51-year-old Dorchester resident who worked for more than 20 years as a public school teacher. The mayor Wu praised Murphy, one of 17 candidates who ran for City Council at-large earlier this year, as someone who speaks “from the heart.”
Murphy will get another swearing-in ceremony in January. Thanks to the city charter, Murphy is filling the seat Wu left vacant after the election because she was one of the runners-up in the 2019 City Council race. Making her second run this year, Murphy came in fourth in the November voting, and will be sworn into a full two-year term in January alongside the other councillors.
Before her swearing-in last Wednesday, she cleared out her Adams Corner campaign headquarters and made her way to City Hall, where family and friends, including state Rep. Dan Hunt, joined her. Her mother, Ann Walsh, stood by her side as her daughter took the oath.
Murphy has deep Dorchester roots: Her grandfather helped organize neighbors as part of an effort to turn a landfill on the banks of the Neponset into something that serves the community. The Richard J. Murphy School, where she once taught, is named in his honor. Her father, meanwhile, founded a credit union that offered low-interest loans.
Similar to Wu’s own swearing-in ceremony, Murphy’s celebration was short, as she finished moving into the office of Councillor Ed Flynn, who is slated to move into the City Council president’s suite next year.
“I got right back to work,” she said. “It’s good to be in the building and making the connections and starting the work.”
That included taking part in tree lightings and hot button topics, including one particular issue that councillors are tackling as the year winds to a close: What to do about an elected school committee after a nonbinding ballot question in November gained support from nearly 80 percent of those who went to the polls.
Councillors are now crafting legislation that turns the ballot question into reality. Murphy, who, like Wu and Councillor At-Large Annissa Essaibi George, has said she prefers a hybrid of elected and appointed members, took part in a hearing on the topic on Monday.
Recalling her own race for at-large, and how difficult it is to run a campaign across the city, Murphy said district-based seats for school committee members make sense to her. “It’s daunting,” she said. “It’s a lot of time and money to be successful in a citywide election.”
Last week, her first City Council vote was for a key initiative proposed by Wu: $8 million for a two-year pilot that makes three bus lines fare-free. The lines, which run through Dorchester and Mattapan, are geared toward low-income riders and the pilot is funded through federal pandemic relief money.
Others could also use fare-free bus routes, including people in South Boston and seniors, Murphy said. The question of how to pay for it after federal funds run out — raised by Dorchester Councillor Frank Baker — is a good one, she added.
“But it is a good start and the conversation we’ll continue to have is about the funding of it,” she said.