No decision will be made about a school district parent's complaint regarding Attleboro School Committee member David Murphy's residency until next month at the earliest, Election Commission Chair Fran V. Hutton told a small group gathered at on Wednesday.
Prior to the start of Hutton's comments, Commissioner Michael Levinson (a former school committee member) said he had been asked to recuse himself on this issue and left the room. Hutton said a person must be appointed to replace Levinson so that a full body could consider the matter. This would not happen before next month.
The commission is scheduled to meet again July 11. If a new commissioner has been appointed by that time, the panel will "look at what has been presented to us and then decide how to proceed," Hutton said. This could include deciding to call for a residency hearing.
Hutton did not say Murphy's name, nor did she elaborate on what had been presented to the commission.
Murphy did not attend the meeting. He wrote in an email to Attleboro-Seekonk Patch earlier this week, "I'm a resident of Attleboro. I really don't know what else to say."
During his campaign last year, Murphy told Patch he had three homes—one at the permanent address that "people in Attleboro associate me with" and rented apartments in Attleboro and Boston. Elections Office Manager Maryann Draine told Patch in October that there is no minimum requirement for how many days of the year a person must live in Attleboro to be considered a resident.
School district parent Jen Crowder recently filed a complaint with the city about Murphy's residency. She also challenged his residency with the state Ethics Commission last fall. The commission responded that the issue was not within its jurisdiction because he was not an elected official at the time, although the commission likely would not have considered the matter even if Murphy were an elected official because residency is not something it addresses.
Crowder attended the session on Wednesday, but did not speak. She wrote in an email to Patch that her action was not a personal attack against Murphy.
"I feel that there should be a true interest and understanding of what is happening within the schools first-hand," she wrote. "This is nothing personal against Mr. Murphy. I believe that if you are going to pursue something, then do it right and do it well. I also would like to say that I am not trying to embarrass Mr. Murphy as he stated [to The Sun Chronicle], and if it is nonsense, then what is the issue with showing clear proof of residency at the time of pulling papers? If there was nothing to hide, then what is the issue with proving it?"
She continued, "No evidence has been submitted [to the city Election Commission] at this time as there is procedure that must be followed. The only evidence at this point in time is Mr. Murphy's public statements (on the Patch) that he resides in Boston. I find it rather disturbing that Mr. Murphy could not be bothered to appear at the meeting."
Those who attended the meeting include School Committee member Teri Enegren and City Councilors Jay DiLisio and Jeremy Denlea.
Hutton said that since she and the other commissioners would be acting as a quasi-judicial body regarding this issue, they would not comment on it outside their meetings. She said she hoped to have the matter decided before the state primary election in September.
Hutton said, "We don't necessarily want to drag this out."