Brand new District 4 Guilford County Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy has a lot of input that she wants to give to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, and, starting on Monday, Dec. 7, she’ll get that chance.
Murphy, a teacher in Guilford County Schools who surprised many by beating two-term incumbent Alan Branson in the District 4 county commissioners race, said that, clearly, as a teacher, she has a focus on school funding and school issues – but she added that there are a lot of other important issues she wants to tackle during her coming four-year term.
Murphy said she hopes to represent District 4 well – and, likewise, all of the people of Guilford County. She said part of the process is hearing from the constituents. Murphy learned a lot about their concerns and hopes on the campaign trail, but she pointed out that it’s hard to meet with everyone in the district. District 4, which covers much of eastern Guilford County, is known for being large and diverse.
“Geographically, it’s enormous,” she said of the district, adding that that made it difficult to meet everyone in the district.
One issue Murphy stressed during her campaign – one that’s important to District 4 – is the need to improve broad brand internet access to underserved markets in Guilford County.
She said the Board of Commissioners needs to lead the way on the effort and said that the county needs to take advantage of existing programs meant to meet that goal and the county also needs to engage in more partnerships with private companies to work toward better access.
Of course, there’s no question that a major focus of Murphy as a commissioner – as on the campaign trail – will be getting more funding for the Guilford County School system.
She said that the $300 million school bond referendum, which passed after the current Board of Commissioners put it on the November ballot, wasn’t enough.
“I expected it to be between $700 million and $900 million,” she said.
A lot of other voters did too, and that may have gotten Murphy some votes.
“Frankly, it was very disheartening,” she said of the amount. “Schools are the driving force in our economy and the money spent there is an investment in our future.”
She said that, based on the amount of the school bond that the board put on the ballot, there seems to be “a disconnect” between what the commissioners are willing to offer and what the school system needs.