KFP: Sitting down with the mayor

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Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy kicks off Kinston’s 250th anniversary celebration with a speech last year. Earlier this week, Murphy announced he would not be running for re-election in November.

Zach Frailey / The Free Press

 

 

 

By Bryan Hanks, Managing Editor
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 21:33 PM.

On Thursday, Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy joined Free Press Managing Editor Bryan Hanks and Columnist Jon Dawson on The Free Press Radio Show to discuss a variety of topics following Murphy’s announcement earlier this week that he wouldn’t be running for re-election.

Following are some of Murphy’s responses to questions from Hanks and Dawson; go to Kinston.com for the complete interview.

The Free Press: How tough was the decision not to run for re-election?

B.J. Murphy: In terms of ranking life decisions, it was probably in my top 3. … Everything you do today has an impact on your life, not just tomorrow, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now. I’ve always taken life at that — it’s not just what I do today, it’s how the decisions today, no matter how big or small, they impact you exponentially throughout the years. …

I understand the likelihood that I’ll run for mayor again is diminished considerably because of this decision. It doesn’t mean I won’t consider running for mayor again but the likelihood has diminished because of the decision.

TFP: If you had decided to run (for re-election), would you have won?

BJM: Absolutely — and for a number of reasons. It would be my third time on the ballot and name recognition on a ballot is important. You’ve got to remember, there are only 4,000 to 5,000 voters in Kinston that vote in every election and that would be the third time they’d see my name on the ballot.

Another (reason) is the incumbency. Obviously, in some political years, being the incumbent is not good but historically speaking, an incumbent has a tremendous advantage. … The third reason is because of nonpartisan elections; that was going to play to my benefit this year. …

One thing I haven’t really talked about a lot and I probably won’t go into a lot of detail but one of the biggest things people have said me as a Republican that goes against me is the support in the black community. I’ll be honest, I have a lot more support in the black community than people either realize or would like to admit.

TFP: Why is that?

BJM: Because I grew up here. I was public school-educated; I went to Northwest (Elementary), Bynum (Elementary), Rochelle (Middle) and Kinston High School, LCC and East Carolina. My entire life was public school education. I was cross country, track and field and I played football for three years. I know a lot of the black community although I’m white.

It’s like I’ve explained to a lot of folks: my father’s generation, they went through integration so you could understand how that generation might have some racial tension issues. … But the thing I’ve mentioned when I’ve talked to people about race relations is my generation doesn’t have that same problem. We just don’t. … I grew up playing sports with black friends and white friends; that’s all we knew.

I grew up in a white home, but in a working class family. My mother was a retail merchant and my father was a bread man and it was a blue collar family. We just survived and we made it happen. … I lost my birth mother when I was 4. There’s a lot of things I can identify with the black community. … I’m a Republican but I have a lot more support there than people realize. …

Hands down, I would’ve won. But it’s all speculation now.

TFP: What is your opinion on the dust-up with the Lenoir County Board of Election’s dust-up with its director, Dana King?

BJM: I think the entire board needs to change. I don’t know how soon the board changes after the governor’s race, but the fact is you have a Republican governor, so you should have two Republican board members now. …

(The current board has) had it out for her since Day 1. The Democratic Party didn’t even tell the two former members they weren’t going to be gone. They replaced them with two new people. I like them; don’t get me wrong and it’s nothing personal. … Eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.

TFP: What is your advice for the next mayor of Kinston?

BJM: Continue to increase street resurfacing money and continue to engage people via social media. I think it’s real important and I think it’s going to become the norm in politics.

TFP: What is your future, politically?

BJM: It’s not the last election I’ll ever be involved in. I’m very confident I will run for another office one day. I live in three districts on the state and national level that would be favorable towards a candidacy like mine.

I have a good political base. Obviously, I’ve shown I can govern a community that is a majority minority town, a majority Democratic town and do it with class and getting things accomplished. I think there’s a good track record of working, quote-unquote, across the aisle, although I’ve always argued there’s not that partisanship on the local level or hyper-local level, at least.

No, I’m not done with politics. And no, I’m not announcing for any candidacy and no, I haven’t even considered a run for an office next year when those guys run in 2014. I really haven’t given it a thought.

My thought has always been, up until this decision, “How can I set myself up for a future race?” The best way thing I knew to do now was focus as much time and energy on my business. …

My political story is always going to precede me. I just need to become more successful in business now and add that chapter to my life and then see where we go in the future.

Full Interview

Want to hear more from this Q&A with Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy? Go to Kinston.com and click on The Free Press Radio Show for the complete interview.