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D-16 Candidate Murray: ‘This Is My Niche’

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 10/17/2013, 10:25am  ET

Gareth MurrayIt’s not the district he represented while in the House of Delegates and not the one he expected to be in when he moved to Potomac, but Gareth Murray wants his old job back.

The 65-year-old former District 20 delegate, higher education advocate and part-time pastor with a psychology degree is running in District 16, touting his experience in a new class of delegates that will likely include a lot of first-termers.

“I don’t take running lightly. It’s a position of service. It’s not to advance your own status. There’s a tendency for elected officials to forget that,” Murray said. “I enjoy doing this. I feel like this is my niche.”

Murray represented Silver Spring and Takoma Park in District 20 from 2003 to 2007 before losing a re-election bid. The married father of two moved to Potomac in 2008. He looked at running in what was then District 15 in 2010, but said it didn’t make sense to run against Aruna Miller, who had strong party support to replace outgoing Delegate and now County Councilmember Craig Rice.

“I’m a team player,” Murray said. “I told people, if something comes up down the road, let me know.”

Murray’s neighborhood was then carved out of District 15 and put in District 16, where a significant reshuffling has left two delegate seats open.

“You’ve got two vacancies all of a sudden and I only need one seat,” Murray said.

Making it easier to do business in Montgomery County is among the issues at the top of his agenda. Murray runs his own small business, a government relations company and wants to start a private pshychotherapy at some point.

He also talked about his higher ed credentials. After his term in Annapolis, Murray went the lobbyist route as the director of legislative affairs for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He also served on the writing groups for the 2009 and 2013 Maryland State Plan for Higher Education. Tuition increases at state schools have been the lowest in the country since 2007.

Murray said the cost of higher education is still relevant and still important in District 16. He also wants to help the area’s aging population stay in their homes so they can “age with grace.” He also identified traffic as an issue, specifically north-to-south along the I-270 corridor.

In Annapolis, he established a task force on men’s health, the type of issue he said can get overlooked. He compared his “thinking outside the square” philosophy to District 16 Delegate and State Sen. candidate Susan Lee. He worked to fix rules for minority or woman-owned business contractors who could be cut off from a contract with the state in the middle of the contract if their net worth surpassed $750,000.

The Baltimore native said his parents were the type of people to pray about everything they did.

“I prayed about my decision,” Murray said of running in District 16. “If you’re supposed to be serving others, it’s not based on you aspirations for yourself.”

His religious background rubbed some in District 20 the wrong way when it came to same-sex marriage, but Murray said he doesn’t believe government should be involved in people’s personal decisions. He also said his views were unfairly demonized in some circles.

He’s hoping to get another shot in Annapolis.

“Folks in Potomac and Bethesda need representation too,” Murray said.