Focus On The "I" In Unity

Speech Given By Matt Murphy- Candidate for Houston City Council At Large Position 4

May 19, 2015

Location: Houston Club, Houston, TX


“Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy.” (Lincoln, 1838) Abraham Lincoln spoke this line in 1838 during his Lyceum Address in Springfield, MO. He was addressing how mobs or people who disrespected American laws and courts could destroy the United States.

For over a decade, we as Houstonians have neglected our core values, responsibilities, and principles that our great city was built upon. Poor political leadership and implementation of social issues have forced us to take sides against each other. This is a major problem that few are willing to address, and it is tearing Houston apart. This crisis demands a new perspective and approach to come up with viable solutions that mends the city back together.

I am humbled by the testimonies of those that came before me about my tract record of identifying problems, and I am committed to the hard work hard towards solving the issues before our city. I seek your help to address this crisis by walking with me during this campaign to provide a clearer definition of responsibility, accountability and community.

We should be motivated by our next generation to live up to our responsibility as political leaders and constituents so we don’t leave children like my son cleaning up our mess. Our main responsibility is to make our city pensions sustainable. According to the city budget, approximately 20% of our city revenues go to paying pension and the reason we are in this crisis (Cross, 2013). Starting in 2016, we will have a $142 million gap between expected annual revenues and expenses. (Morris, 2014) Ignoring this crisis consumes our time and eliminates us from focusing on other major issues such as our aging infrastructure and drainage. An attempt to provide an additional source of revenue has proven to be inadequate. The process is easily broken because personal agendas and politics that rob the “lock box” of any funds designated to go to our streets and drainage.

To put it in simple and hypothetical terms: If I commit to owe you $100 a day for the rest of your life, but I only make $10 a day; there is only one failed path. Either you only get $10 a day, or borrow $90 to keep my promise until the credit is maxed out. Eventually I will go bankrupt, our deal is lost, and my house is falling down from neglect.

We must put a stop to this madness and call it what it is; a crisis! First, we must lobby to the state to provide us local control over pensions. Next we establish a platform to work with the unions to come up with a solution that keeps the promise of our current deal, but reforms the deal for our future police, fire, and municipal workers. Finally we must be fiscally responsible with our current budgetary spending to make sure we don’t continue to kick the can down the road and get in this mess ever again.  It is a commitment I will make as a council member, but I will need your help to make sure we are working together in a grassroots effort towards accountability.

As a political outsider looking in, let me be frank: Accountably is something that career politicians are trained to avoid. We need to stop enabling career politicians by not keeping them accountable. Politicians are supposed to be accountable to the majority of voters, but less than 20% of voters actually vote. This leaves a career politician with free reign to push their own social agenda and cronyism without any repercussions. This must stop, and we need to make an effort to educate more people through a grassroots effort on how important their voice matters, not only to voting, but also to the public process.

We need to install a sense of civic duty in our neighbors and children just like my parents did for me. I have learned by my own mistakes, that if you don’t vote, then you don’t matter, but we are responsible for the candidates that represent us. Let’s refocus our attention to municipal elections instead of the top down approach are so used to seeing because it is not working. We can develop talent through a grassroots effort to eventually take over higher offices such as state and federal legislature, Governor, and even President. In order for us to identify potential leaders in our communities that believe in governing for the people and protecting our constitutional rights, we must focus on building up our communities.

Our communities are the core of our strength as a city, but we have allowed several factors diminish that over time. We can start right now by getting to know our neighbors better. According to the Pew Research Center study only 19% of all people know the neighbors that live next to them (Pew Research Center, 2010). Yet, we are hungry for community and achieve it by segmenting ourselves into our social circles, religious organizations, political circles, or worse, through the illusion of friendship on social media sites.

My core values have taught me to “Love Thy Neighbor” regardless of who they are. No better example of how it was applied through the relationship with my elderly neighbor three houses down: Nadine Singleton.

When I first purchased a fixer upper home in Riverside Terrace, Ms. Nadine walked down the street from her house three doors down to find out what was going on. She came up to me and said, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” I explained to her that I had just purchased our home and was fixing it up to live in it. She opened up her arms and said, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

Over the next few months during the renovation process, Ms. Nadine and I got to know each other very well. We established a trust between each other enough for her to knock on my door one day because she was concerned about her great grandson that was living with her. He came home with a poor progress report, and she did not know what to do. Keiland’s mother was working two jobs and was not home to help with his homework, and she was too old to keep up with him. I told her to send him down to the house and I would try to talk some sense into him. That day I worked Keiland hard around the house cleaning up leaves in flowerbeds, picking up trash, etc. Eventually, he had tears in his eyes. When I asked him what he was crying about, Keiland replied, “This is hard!” I responded by saying, “Well get use to it, because this is what you will do the rest of your life unless you get your grades up.”

As soon as I said that, Keiland realized that not only was his great grandmother and his mother’s eyes were on him, now his neighbor’s were watching after him too.

Unfortunately I lost my friend and neighbor earlier this year but Ms. Nadine left a legacy in me and her great grandson is on his way to being the first in his family to go to college.  Mrs. Nadine, my neighbors, my family, and you are the reason that chose to run for city council even though I am a political outsider

I now want to ask the campaign staff to come stand with me, I ask you to stand together with us as one strong grassroots effort to provide a clearer definition of responsibility, accountability, community.

I don’t have all the solutions. What I have is the proven tract record and dedication to finding solutions through identifying the problem, analyzing both sides of the issue, and creating a process to deal with the source of the problem instead of the surface. In other words, I want create a process to fix the streets and not just the potholes.

There is no “I” in team, but there is one in unity! It will take your individual effort of standing with me during this campaign season. In the back you can schedule a time where we can walk together in your neighborhood so we can know and encourage your neighbors to vote in this crucial election. I ask you to support our efforts monetarily in efforts to provide a stronger community through this process. Finally, keep me accountable in regards to the responsibility I am willing to take on as a city council member.

Let’s Replace Passion with Compassion For Sake of This Great City and Restore Faith, Hope, And Vision Back To Houston. I am “All In” and you have my commitment that I will be there and work harder than anyone else, but without your support we can’t win; with your support we can’t lose.

Works Cited

Cross, R. (2013, July 15). How Sustainable are Houston’s Pensions? Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Inside Policy & Politics:

Lincoln, A. (1838, January 27). Lyceum Address. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Abraham Lincoln Online:

Morris, M. (2014, May 27). Houston's budget picture growing bleak. Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Houston Chronical:

Pew Research Center. (2010, June 10). Do You Know Your Neighbors? Retrieved May 19, 2015, from Pew Research: