By Ginger DeShaney

New City Councilor At-Large Erin Murphy was sworn in for the second time in a month on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022,  signaling the start of her official term.

Murphy got a headstart in learning the ropes at City Hall after being sworn in on Dec. 1, 2021, to fill Mayor Michelle Wu’s at-large seat. 

“It’s been exciting,” Murphy said in mid-December after her first few weeks. “I’ve been finding my way around.” 

When Wu was sworn in early to finish out Marty Walsh’s term, her at-large seat from the 2019 election came open. The charter states that at-large council seats cannot go empty for any period of time, Murphy said. So, the seat was offered to the runner-up from the 2019 election, Alejandra St. Guillen, who declined. 

Murphy, who was the next highest vote-getter after St. Guillen in 2019, was then asked to fill the seat. 

Murphy attended every meeting and hearing she could before the end of the year, talked with central staff and other City Councilors and their staffs, and took in all the advice she could.

“It’s just learning the procedures in real time and how things go and what the protocol is and how the hearings are run … that’s been good,” said Murphy, who moved into Councilor Ed Flynn’s old office in December. (Flynn moved into Wu’s old office.)

Murphy is the only teacher on the City Council, having taught in Boston Public Schools for more than 20 years. But she brings a perspective not just as a teacher but also as a parent who raised her kids in the city, navigated the school system, and dealt with the pains and struggles that go along with that. 

“It’s not an easy process,” she said. “I know that not just as a teacher advocating for my students and families but as a parent myself.”

Murphy, 51, ran for City Council for the same reasons she taught in BPS: “I love the city. I love the kids, the families, and I want the city to work for all of us.”

Murphy loved her job as a teacher. “I definitely felt like I was still a great teacher and enjoying it,” she said. “But there was that moment where I felt I could do more. I could support and advocate for more families across the city.”

Murphy, who lives in Dorchester, was a fixture in South Boston – and every other neighborhood in the city – on the campaign trail. She has ties to Southie: Her uncle owns Murphy’s Jewelry, her aunt, Kay Walsh, “has worked in South Boston forever,” Murphy said, and when she worked at the Murphy and Henderson schools, she had a lot of Southie families.

“Thank you, Southie,” she said of the neighborhood’s support for her.

“I am grateful for everyone’s support. I’m grateful for this opportunity but I also understand the enormous responsibility I have, so I take this really seriously,” Murphy said. 

“I’m going to put in the work to make sure I do a good job. I’m going to be listening to the concerns and needs in South Boston and every neighborhood across the city. I’m also going to work closely with the elected officials and community leaders in South Boston.”

It’s important to Murphy to build relationships with her colleagues because “there’s a lot of work to be done.” She’s already had coffee or chatted with her fellow councilors. “That’s important to me so we can build off of that and work together to get things done.

“We’re really trying to push policy and make changes and get things done for the city.”

As a new councilor, Murphy knows she doesn’t know everything, “but I think that’s what I’ve always known as a teacher – another skill coming from the teacher world – you’re a lifelong learner so you’re always going to have things to learn. That’s part of the relationship-building.”

As an at-large councilor, Murphy’s focus is on the entire city. The following issues are top of mind for her.

  • Bringing Boston back as the city comes out of COVID and making sure small businesses are supported.
  • Advocating for and supporting students and families, schools and education, and making sure there are quality public schools in every neighborhood.
  • Addressing Mass and Cass. “It’s a public health crisis and we can’t ignore it anymore,” Murphy said. “But we also have to make sure we’re listening to and advocating for not just those struggling on the streets but also the business owners, schoolchildren, residents in those areas, the hospitals and the stores … Everyone is struggling down there. We need to make sure that every stakeholder is at the table.” 
  • Advocating for seniors and veterans.
  • Staying on top of constituent services and quality of life issues. 

“The end result is that people have the city working for them,” she said.

Murphy’s kids – who range in age from 22 to 32 – are excited about her new role. 

After not earning a seat in the 2019 election, she picked herself up and jumped right back in. 

“It was a good lesson for them,” Murphy said. “When you want something you just work hard and you keep going. You might not get it the first time, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get it.”


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City Councilor At-Large Erin Murphy is sworn in on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

Erin Murphy posed with former Mayor Marty Walsh at her swearing in ceremony.

While on the campaign trail, then-candidate Erin Murphy helped pick up trash in South Boston at the Eversource Park cleanup in April.

City Councilor At-Large Erin Murphy, with Councilor Ed Flynn, helped distribute turkeys in South Boston before Thanksgiving.

Erin Murphy, with Mayor Michelle Wu, speaks to the crowd at the M Street Tree Lighting.