There will be a hearing on the residency of Attleboro School Committee member David Murphy, but the Election Commission will not be considering the specific matter that school district parent Jennifer Crowder had requested. Commission Chair Fran V. Hutton said the panel would only consider whether Murphy was a resident on July 16, the day Crowder filed a complaint. Her complaint alleges Murphy was not a resident last fall when he filed to run for school committee.
The four-member commission voted unanimously Thursday evening for a hearing. No date was set, but the hearing must take place before the Sept. 6 primary election.
"Agreeing to a hearing does not mean we agree or disagree with the material which has been brought to us, but that it meets the requirements for a hearing" Hutton said.
Hutton said she was told earlier in the day by a city attorney, who received information from the Secretary of State's office, that the commission could only consider Murphy's residency on the date the complaint was submitted. Crowder, who first challenged Murphy's residency last fall through a complaint to the state Ethics Commission and later filed a complaint to the city that was rejected last week on technical grounds, said all of her actions have been at the advice of the local Election's Department. She added that she did not believe her effort would fail, despite Hutton's statement on what the commission could consider.
"I have a plan," said Crowder, who declined to reveal what her plan was.
Murphy did not attend the meeting. He wrote in an email to the media following the session, "I look forward to the hearing and resolving this issue definitively."
The school committee member said last fall that he rented an apartment in Boston, but has always maintained his permanent residency in Attleboro. He wrote in a statement last week that he no longer rents the Boston apartment.
In a separate email sent specifically to Patch on Thursday, Murphy wrote, "I ask those wishing to express their support abstain from commenting online about this matter until it is resolved."
The Election Commission will be the decision-making body at the hearing. This could be a concern for Crowder, who said there was evidence of bias from at least one commissioner. She noted that Commissioner Henry B. Reilly III made a motion to dismiss the complaint. His motion failed, and he later voted in favor of holding a hearing.
"There was evidence of bias because he made the motion instantly after they opened the meeting," Crowder said.
Several people associated with the school committee attended the meeting, including Committee members Brenda Furtado, Barbara Craw and Teri Enegren as well as the son of Committee member Bill Larson.