Running for Cold Spring trustee
By Michael Turton
Fran Murphy is one of three candidates running for two trustee seats on the Cold Spring Village Board as part of the March 18 election.
Asked why she is running, Murphy told The Paper, “I’ve been thinking about politics for a long time.” Her first concrete step was to volunteer at the Village Hall, taking on such tasks as assessing current telephone service providers, dealing with insurance coverage for Main Street businesses and creating a database of volunteer applicants. “I wanted background, to get to know about the business of the village,” she said.
What tipped the scales toward seeking election was her attendance at a few village meetings. While she said the sample was not extensive, what she saw impressed her — though not favorably. “I thought the bickering that I saw, the ‘zingers’ can’t go on. I found it uncomfortable — and embarrassing.” Murphy said at that point she had a choice to make. “I decided that rather than sitting on the outside complaining, now would be a good time to get involved.” She decided to run for trustee.
Unlike the four other candidates, Murphy is running independently rather than as part of a team. “I believe running as a team creates a possible division for the future board,” she said. “The team needs to be formed with the full board once the election is over.”
The 66-year-old Murphy recently retired as director of graduate school admissions at the Zicklin School of Business, part of Baruch College and the City University of New York, a position she held for 18 years. She thinks that experience makes her a strong candidate.
“I learned to manage a staff and deal with people,” Murphy said. “I dealt with three different deans and four directors, and was comfortable doing it. I learned to sit with them, talk to them, listen to them — and to get things done.” She also had to deal with conflict, especially between departments within the school. “I know when to push my agenda, and when to stand back and say, ‘It’s your call.’”
MBA programs are very competitive, especially between schools, and that has a downside according to Murphy. “Some schools tend to exaggerate their numbers,” regarding test scores, enrollment, recruiting success rates and the like. “It was more important to me to be accurate,” she said.
If elected, Murphy said one of the first things she wants to see is for the new board to come together as a unit. “It will be largely a new team,” she said, since no matter who is elected, three of the five trustees (which includes the mayor) will be new. “We need to get to know each other and decide how we’ll work together.”
The first-time candidate said that in other situations she would suggest a board retreat, an approach that can’t be used because of the Open Meetings Law, which requires that all business meetings of a quorum of the Village Board be open to the public. “But I think we can find a way to do it,” she said, “perhaps meetings on two Saturday or Sunday afternoons.”
Murphy mentioned a number of key priorities ahead for the village, starting with selecting a new village attorney as well as a long list of issues that she said include the Main Street project, water and sewer initiatives, a new firehouse, the post office location, the future of Dockside Park and removal of coal tar from the area of the Cold Spring Boat Club.
She also sees a need that goes beyond the projects themselves. “We need to keep villages better informed, using reports on a regular basis” to include project schedules and financial updates.
Murphy said that at times, small vocal minorities can wield too much influence within the village. She said that residents need to realize that “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose — and sometimes the greater good of the whole village is more important.”
She said that trustees always have to listen to what everyone has to say, “but we have to make decisions based on what is good for the majority. There can’t be any ‘sacred cows’ anymore — we have to look at everything.”
One area where Murphy feels she can have a positive impact is in seeking grants. “There hasn’t been a specific person working on grants, and we need new revenue sources,” she said. “I’ll work hard at learning to write grant applications, but I can’t do it alone.” She used grants for a new firehouse as an example. “I need to work with the fire company. And they need to contribute information.”
Murphy, a Boston native, and her husband Ed have been married for 38 years. They moved to High Street in Cold Spring 15 years ago. She currently serves on the Cold Spring Recreation Commission and is one of several candidates who have applied to serve on the yet-to-be-named Ethics Committee. Ed is a veteran with more than 40 years of service between the reserves and regular army. A command sergeant major, he served in the first Gulf War and is now Veterans of Foreign Wars commander of the James Harvey Hustis Post in Cold Spring.
Photo by M. Turton