Claudia Murphy is one of six candidates running for the White Plains Common Council on Nov. 5. She is running under the Republican and Conservative lines.
Murphy owns Happy Paws Pet Sitting in White Plains. She serves as the treasure of the Carhart Neighborhood Association and president of the Live Oaks Condominium Association.
She is the former head of the Imaging Technology Center at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, former senior medical photographer at Cornell Medical Center, and a former medical photographer at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, member of Local 1199 Hospital and Healthcare
Below are Murphy's responses to a questionnaire sent out by Patch.
Occupation: Business Owner
Patch: Why did you decide to run for election?
Murphy: I was one of the leaders in the fight against the Sunrise Detox Center, which still may come to White Plains. I spoke out on behalf of my neighborhood residents, many of whom are elderly or don’t speak English. During the public hearings my neighbors and I were laughed at and scolded by some council members for speaking the truth. I want to end the one party government and give the residents of White Plains a voice. I am running because I truly care about the future of our city and the well being of our residents. I have no interest in political or financial gain.
Patch: What personal or professional experiences qualify you to serve on the common council?
Murphy: I have worked in academia, been a union member, and have been employed at a publicly traded company in corporate America. I now own small business.
At Cornell University Medical Center I documented the injuries of physically and sexually abused children and worked extensively in the burn unit. My images were used in court to help convict alleged offenders.
I was a member of 1199 Hospital and Healthcare Workers Union while at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. During my time there I went on strike and walked a picket line. Being a former union member I understand the challenges that union members and employers face dealing with union contracts and negotiations.
From Einstein I went on to employment at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as the Manager of the Imaging Technology Center. I researched and acquired new technology and brought the photographic and design work from the darkroom to the desktop, producing all work digitally. I was integral in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to be used towards the discovery of treatments for neuromuscular diseases and disorders. Ironically, I then developed carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and repetitive motion disorder in both hands. I was told by many physicians that I would never work at a computer again.
After extensive physical therapy I reinvented myself and started my own business. I currently own and operate a pet care business that serves White Plains, Scarsdale and the surrounding areas. The business of pet care is based on honesty, trust and reliability. I have the same administrative responsibilities as any other business owner such as payroll and insurances. My business allows me to travel throughout the city daily. I am not in an office; I am exposed to our city.
The common thread of my work experience is that I have always been involved in employment that has served others while being constantly challenged to formulate creative problem solving techniques. I have never taken a job for monetary gain but sought employment that I was passionate about where I felt I could make a positive impact on society.
I am currently a board member of the Carhart Neighborhood Association and President of my condominium’s board of managers. In recent years I have attended many meetings in the Common Council chambers. The experience I have sitting on the opposite side of the banister from the Common Council gives me the unique ability to identify with the residents and business owners of the city who are directly impacted by the decisions made by our city’s government.
Patch: What is the top issue facing city residents?
Murphy: Ever increasing taxes and the cost of living in White Plains. Throughout my campaign I have met many home owners who will be moving due to rising property taxes. Life long White Plains residents as well as young families are being priced out of their homes. There are properties in foreclosure and short sale situations throughout our city. I have neighbors who have lost their homes. Many owners of multiple family homes are also struggling. The rents for apartments in these homes cannot be increased enough to compensate for the rising taxes these homeowners are facing.
Patch: Describe your campaign platform or how you differentiate yourself from your opponents' platforms?
Murphy: I am the only candidate who lives in downtown White Plains. I am a true independent voice who will represent the people of White Plains. I am not a product of a political party.
The needs and wants of our residents and businesses is my top priority. Our government needs to be more fiscally responsible and find new sources of income to relieve the burden on our taxpayers and residents.
Patch: Should you be elected, what would you like to achieve over the course of your term?
Murphy: I would like to stop wasteful spending on projects that cater to a few. The priorities of city spending need to be changed by placing the needs of the many before the needs of a few. I would like to eliminate the health coverage for the Common Council and stop the elitist practice of insuring Common Council members for life who have served over five years for current and future council members.
Our budget increases by a few million every year and millions are borrowed from our city’s the tax reserve fund to comply with state tax cap laws. We need to implement a zero-based budgeting system to identify waste and have departments justify every dollar spent.
Departmental budgets should be evaluated quarterly. More projects should be bid out to ensure the city is getting the best value for every dollar spent.
Also, we have to bring business back to our city. The city’s sales tax revenues remain flat and are not increasing at the same rate as other towns and cities in our county. Real estate tax, parking fees and sales tax cannot be our only forms of revenue. We have to work with local and state leaders to design plans to entice big business, corporations and high paying jobs to our city.
Patch: If elected, how do you feel you will balance of the concerns of the city’s businesses community with the concerns of all your other constituents?
Murphy: Being a business owner and resident of the city I can appreciate the concerns of both entities. Most times, the concerns of the business community and constituents are the same. Many of our business owners live in White Plains. We all want a safe, affordable city to work in, enjoy and raise our families. Our businesses and residents need to be brought together and the divisiveness must stop. We need to balance the concerns and needs of all to make sound decisions that will benefit all of our communities.
Communication among developers, business owners and residents must be encouraged to create win-win situations for our city. Currently, my own neighborhood has been working with a developer on a future project. The developer met with our residents and considers our suggestions and objections. Our residents are aware of this project and have input. Communication is the key.
Patch: Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like the public to know about you?
Murphy: I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in Biomedical Photographic Communications. My images of science and nature have garnered many awards, my work has been displayed throughout the country and has been published internationally. I have a great respect for nature and the outdoors. I consider myself lucky to be able to combine my love of the outdoors and animals in the business I currently own.
When I am not working I try to remain active. I enjoy Pilates reformer, kettle bell and other strength training. I have participated in military obstacle 10k mud runs to raise money for care packages to be sent our troops overseas and 5k runs at the Bronx Zoo to raise funds for wildlife conservation.
Although I cannot have a family of my own I have a great love of children. If elected I will do my best to represent the people of this city as if they were my own family.