About Stephen

FIU Student News Service – Joshua Ballantine

Miami, Fla. – Stephen Murray, now a 21-year-old student at the University of Miami was the youngest person elected to the Coconut Grove Village Council on November 3rd.

“With his enthusiasm, politics and new ideas he has us all stirred up,” said Hope Mohr Murray’s campaign manager.
Murray was the youngest out of 17 candidates that ran for nine spots. He was also the only University of Miami student to run, but these things have not tarnished his reputation among the other council members.

“I completely support his campaign,” said Michelle Niemeyer, who currently holds a seat on the village council and is running for re-election. “He is extremely professional and has done much more than some members who are much older than him.”

Murray [originally from] Rye, New York and followed his family to Vienna, Austria [in 3rd grade] because of his father’s job. Four years later, they moved to Budapest, Hungary where he finished high school at an American International School. He decided to take a year off before coming to UM to work with Grassroots Campaigns Inc. in Philadelphia, which was an organization subcontracted by the Democratic National Committee to handle all low-level fund raising and implement Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy.

“The door-to-door fund raising came very naturally to me,” said Murray who explained that at one point he was bringing in $475 a day from strangers, while the average for other fundraisers in his office in Philadelphia was $185. Murray raised over $15,000 door-to-door in 10 weeks for the Democratic National Committee.
But, not all people responded well. Murray said he had two guns pulled on him and another guy threatened to beat him up on his lawn.

“The trick to fund raising is to get past the first 15 seconds,” said Murray. “I decided it was more important to talk to people about what they thought was important, and then to offer up what I felt the Democrats were doing to address that issue.”

Murray moved to the West Grove two years ago to study Political Science at the University of Miami and has become quite a political force. The barbecue meet and greet put together by his campaign attracted State Representative [and Florida House Majority Whip] Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Village Council member Michelle Niemeyer, the editor of the Coconut Grove Grapevine and many community members.

Murray has also started a political beat on the West Grove where he lives that is now often quoted by the Coconut Grove Grapevine and is one of the only sites taking on the issues facing the area which Murray says has an “internet blackout.” Just recently, he was asked by a fellow politician to raise money for the Greater St. Paul African Methodist Episcopalian Church’s soup kitchen in the West Grove which was about to close down for lack of funding. He said that in less than a week, he single-handedly raised over $1,500 to keep the program going for another four months.

“Murray has been a tremendous help for us,” explained Rosa Williams director of the soup kitchen at the Greater St. Paul Church. “We have been able to provide food because of his fund-raising.”

During the 2008 presidential election, Murray decided to run for Democratic Committeeman of his precinct in the West Grove. He went around meeting the people in his precinct and won the position at the age of 19 in a precinct that had over a 70 percent turnout, far above the national average.

“At UM they tell you to be careful when you go through the West grove,” said Murray. “I walk through here all the time. It is my home.”

During Murray’s barbecue Meet and Greet it was clear that it was a community event. Murray’s neighbor, Michelle Wedderburu, who owns simplyjerk.com, catered the event on her own bill and a group of animal lovers of which Murray is a part brought their dogs to hang out at the event. Murray has recently rescued two dogs through these friends who have made it their goal to not buy dogs, but only adopt. His popularity seems evident in the community, and shows an increasing trend for UM students to get involved in a West Grove area that has been long overlooked.
“In all of my classes, Stephen has been attracted to the idea of changing communities and always does his papers with other students,” said Dr. Maria Lorca, Professor of Economics and Murray’s professor for three semesters. “He does a lot of fund raising for the West Grove and is concerned about the corruption there. He is highly respected in that community.”

Currently, Murray uses his West Grove political beat to cover issues in the Grove. One issue he has been fighting lately has been FPL’s attempt to build 105 feet high transmission lines down the US1 corridor. He claims it will be unsafe and lower property values and that the lines should be placed underground. FPL’s monopoly on electricity, Murray claims, has given them power to mistreat their customers. He joined the Coconut Grove Village Council’s FPL committee as a political liaison to advocate for accountability on executive’s salaries and to pressure the local government to take action.

“I don’t like to look at things as easy or difficult,” said Murray, a student at University of Miami majoring in political science. “I look at things as a challenge or an opportunity.”

  • Disclaimer

    The contents of this blog do not reflect the opinions of the Coconut Grove Village Council, the Democratic National Committee, the Florida Democratic Party, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, or any elected official or organization referenced herein.

    All opinions are exclusively those of Stephen Murray.

    All content (c) 2010 Stephen Murray

  • Credit

    Blog Layout and Design: Cassie Oswald (http://www.cassieoswald.com)

    Banner Photo Credit: Lindsay Brown for The Miami Hurricane

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