Few lawmakers will be more at the center of attention today in St. Paul than Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown. The governor has called the Legislature to a special session, and a badly needed, long-overdue bonding bill is expected to be a hot topic. Murphy is chair of Capital Investment, the powerful Minnesota House committee responsible for the bonding bill in that chamber.
Her position of influence and leadership is the result of 44 years of public service as representative of Minnesota House District 3B, which rims Duluth, from Proctor and Hermantown in its southwest to Two Harbors in its northeast. After decades of often-quiet, behind-the-scenes, put-your-head-down, and just-get-the-work-done effectiveness, Murphy can be supported once again in the Nov. 3 election by eligible 3B voters.
“They’ll never find anybody that’s worked harder or who’s been able to carry what their wishes are to the Capitol and back. I’m just proud of what I’ve done,” Murphy said in a mid-September interview, conducted virtually, with the News Tribune Editorial Board. “I work however many hours it takes to get the goals of that day accomplished. I care about the needs of the region and the state.”
With re-election, Murphy has her eyes set on putting her experience and wisdom to work to change how the Legislature operates, to make it more focused, efficient, and effective. The pandemic and the need to sometimes govern remotely has exposed shortfalls.
“We have to keep what's really important to the institution and look at reforming some of the things that aren’t quite as important,” she said. “Maybe we should be delving into the financial aspects a lot more than we do and do a little less (on) policy (and) social issues. … The underlying thing has always been fairness and inclusiveness and having decisions made by committees rather than by the chair, and I think I've provided a good example.”
Murphy can point to a record of success to back any recommendations, including her support for full-service schools that are centers of their communities as well as their school districts; her advocacy for libraries, the only places where many Minnesotans are able to access media or get online to apply for jobs, connect with health care, and more; and her unwavering fights for life-long learning, broadband, law enforcement, bipartisanship, and more.
The nation needs to be better prepared for COVID-19-like emergencies, she said. “It was serious and major, and the United States of America should have had a much better plan — and that would have had to have started back many (presidential) administrations ago; so you can’t blame just one administration,” said Murphy. “We sure know now that we’re going to have to do a lot better.”
Murphy’s Republican challenger this time is Andy Hjelle, an insurance agent who says he has been involved in politics since age 16.
“My big focus is getting the economy back on the road, making sure that we can get these jobs back,” he said in a separate interview, also held virtually in mid-September. “Mary Murphy has done a wonderful job, but I think it’s time for a new and younger voice.”
While Hjelle’s involvement is commendable, his knowledge of the issues and how the Legislature can help don't match. Not yet.
And Rep. Murphy isn’t finished. Not with the need for economic recovery, state budget deliberations, redistricting, and more all on the docket for the Legislature in 2021. And not with a bonding bill on the agenda today.
Murphy remains more ready to effectively represent her district, with hard work and honesty that get results, even if they don't always grab headlines.
ABOUT THIS ENDORSEMENT: This endorsement was determined solely by and was written by the News Tribune Editorial Board.