State Rep. Paul McMurtry: Marking ten years in office

In May 2007 in a special election, Paul McMurtry of Dedham won as an independent candidate for state representative from the 11th Norfolk District. Since then he has become a Democrat, and has been re-elected in 2008 and every two years since then.

Next Thursday, May 18 he will be the honored guest at a party at Moseley’s-on-the-Charles celebrating his decade in public life.

In advance of that celebration, this week he sat down with The Dedham Times to reflect on his accomplishments in office thus far and to outline some of his legislative goals that remain on the horizon. Major excerpts of the interview appear below. Dedham Times: It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. What can you say about the people in this district, and at the State House, who have been supportive?

State Representative Paul McMurtry: With my mom passing at a young age and then my brother, certainly at a very young age, the folks that came out and expressed their condolences and their concerns – it was quite comforting, knowing that the people you represent actually do care. It’s a mutual understanding and relationship and situation.

Having those losses in my family just heightened the reason, or accented the reason, why the work that I do has an impact and is important. Regarding my colleagues in the State House and the people that I work with, I’ve said this through the years, that I have the good fortune of being part of a legislative body of people who represent their cities and towns and residents all across the Commonwealth who care. I’ve never not seen an example, when we come together or when we’re assembled, I’ve not seen an example of some of the things we hear about and read about, perhaps maybe in D.C. I’ve seen just the opposite of that. I’ve seen a bunch of people involved in their communities that care about others and that are trying to make a difference in a small way. That’s from the colleague perspective.

Then again, back from being state rep. to the district, representing Dedham, Westwood and Walpole, it’s given me that unique opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. As I mentioned, you realize the sincerity of it all when I went through my family loss, that people were there for me. It’s definitely a bunch of good people and residents, knowing that you’re trying to put your best effort forth. 

DT: Tell me a bit about the event at Moseley’s.

PM: Sure. It’s a group of friends and supporters who are coming together to organize an evening celebrating the tenth anniversary. I can’t believe that ten years has passed. It’s to recognize a milestone and honoring public service, not just for me but for everyone. In addition to the good people that I represent, the good citizens of the district, I have an opportunity to work with a lot of local elected officials from all three towns. This is really just celebrating the short ten years of my public service, but everyone’s public service and activism and community engagement, just realizing that we all have a chance, an opportunity to give back in some way, shape or form, that it makes a difference.

DT: What are a few legislative accomplishments or positions that you’re most proud of?

PM: Through the years, under the leadership of Speaker DeLeo, we have undertaken a lot of reforms, whether it’s transportation reform, ethics reform, elections reform, health care reform. The Speaker and my colleagues, we take a look at the current situation, assess it. We know there’s room for improvement, so that’s what we try to attack and conquer.

One of the highlights I recall is with a family from Dedham, when the autism legislation was passed. Coverage for children from the Commonwealth on the autism spectrum – that was something I was quite proud of. The Valor Act, I and II, giving benefits to military service members of the Commonwealth who sacrificed for us and our freedoms, who have worn the uniform of our nation, we passed some of the most comprehensive legislation in the country.

One of the continuing efforts of the opioid crisis that we face, not only in this district but across the Commonwealth and in our country – we’ve begun to tackle that issue. That’s a continuing effort. A few years back the Speaker undertook very, very comprehensive, well-balanced gun violence legislation that addressed the needs and concerns of both sides, people who are law-abiding gun owners, and also addressed the concerns we have with some of the unnecessary violence that takes place through the acts of unlicensed guns. There’s been quite a few – education reform, knowing that public education is the great equalizer, and our obligation for public education. The list goes on and on. 

DT: In your different committee assignments – and I know those have changed over the past decade – for example your current assignment on the Personnel and Administration Committee, when does that re-start business?

PM: For every committee it’s a two-year legislative cycle, so we all got sworn in in January. Then the committee assignments were given out in early February. So now the committee process, where hearings are held. For me, under the purview of the committee that I chair, we oversee some of the policies and procedures within the State House, the intern program and so forth. That kicked off as soon as the committee assignments were made. That’s an ongoing process throughout the entire legislative session.

DT: I’m just curious because I went to the webpage for it, and it didn’t show any items.

PM: The committee that I chair doesn’t hold public hearings. There’s not legislation that passes through that. It’s more of an administrative aspect of it. It’s the ethics and the policies and staffing/employee policies and procedures, and interns. So yes – if you were looking for a committee hearing you wouldn’t have seen that. We meet, but not through public committees.

Editor’s Note: The celebration at Moseley’s on May 18 will take place from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. It features the comic Patti Ross, entertainment, keynote speakers and a pasta dinner. Tickets are $45, with sponsorships available for $400. For tickets, please send a check to McMurtry Committee, P.O. Box 628, Dedham, MA 02027 or pay on-line via ActBlue: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/pm10