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Lansings rep.-elect juggles church, state

November 16, 2000
Lansing City Council President Michael Murphy is clearing his position. He will move to the Michigan House of Representatives next year. —

Even though he’s moving to the Michigan Legislature, Michael Murphy says he will not forget about the parishioners at his church.

Murphy attributes his Nov. 7 election to the 69th District state House seat to the support he received from the community and especially the parishioners at St. Stephen’s Community Church, 1420 W. Oakland Ave. in Lansing.

He has pastored the United Church of Christ congregation for 13 years.

“I’m able to do my public service largely with the support of my family and congregation,” he said. “I will give 110 percent in my capacity and try to be a voice for the people of the 69th District and give my best in service.”

Murphy plans to continue serving as the church’s pastor, making him the only representative in the state to double as such. But he said he’s been juggling his professions in church and state for years - Murphy is the president of the Lansing City Council.

“During my tenure here at the Lansing City Council and this last year as (council) president, I’ve been able to maintain the same quality of service and pastoral care that our parish has come to expect,” Murphy said. “Being a pastor and preacher is a lifetime commitment, so I’m not going to let that go.”

Murphy wants to focus on issues brought out in his campaign - education, Medicare and prescription drug coverage for senior citizens.

“I’m also going to work on how the state can better partner with the city of Lansing,” he said. “Lansing is the capital and we have to work in a bipartisan way to make sure that the state capital is the best state capital in the nation.”

He also said closing the funding gap between MSU and the other state research universities is a priority.

While Murphy said he is ready to go in early January when he is sworn in, his work isn’t quite done for the Lansing City Council.

“There’s several items we need to wrap up,” he said. “Revisions to our housing code will probably be one of the top issues to be discussed over the next month. I would like to think that the council is ready to deal with future challenges.”

With Murphy as its president, the city council received a 64 percent approval rating from Lansing residents, the highest such rating in the last 10 years. Murphy said the positive feedback began with the election of some new council members in 1997.

Rep. Lynne Martinez, D-Lansing, who Murphy is replacing, said she thinks Murphy will do a good job for the district. Martinez vacated the seat because of term limits.

“He’s a very progressive, caring person,” she said. “We have known each other and been working together for years and I think he’ll do a great job.

“We’ll just keep working together.”

But one of the first items on the council’s agenda for the new year will be finding Murphy’s replacement on the Lansing City Council. His term would have ended Dec. 31, 2001.

Ron Wilson, the council’s legislative research analyst, said the application and interview process will begin almost immediately after Murphy’s resignation, which is effective Jan. 3.


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