Drew Murray, a longtime civic leader based in Center City, is seeking a City Council seat for the third time since 2019.
A former Democrat who switched parties in 2018, Murray has since aimed to be the consummate moderate Republican. Actively involved in civic associations and community groups, Murray hopes he’s built enough credibility on the ground to win over voters left of center.
More than anything, he’s hoping the old adage about third attempts is true.
Murray works as a regional sales manager at O’Brien Systems, a Conshohocken-based storage company. But he leans on his civic engagement more than his professional bonafides when making his pitch.
He chairs the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, a gathering of the city’s registered community organizations, and has helped grow its reach. The group started informally to help guide the development of a new zoning code, but converted to a nonprofit in 2014 with a mission guided by “nonpartisan advocacy for quality of life issues and sharing resources, best practices and economies of scale.”
Murray is president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and on the board of the Center City District. He’s also a podcaster: Murray hosts “The Republican Zone” on USALA Media Network, a local radio station.
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This is actually his fourth time running for office. He campaigned to win a state House seat in 2020, but lost to Rep. Brian Sims after an uncontested primary. His latest run, in the November 2022 special election which saw Councilmember Jim Harrity elected to an at-large seat, was largely a tuneup to prepare for this year’s race, per the Inquirer.
The extra time spent campaigning seems to have paid off in Republican circles, at least: Murray was the top vote getter in May’s GOP primary for At-Large candidates.
When it comes to policy, Murray’s primary focus is on crime and taxes. He’s calling for increased funding of the police department, and has many criticisms of District Attorney Larry Krasner.
His taxing policy is more pointed: Murray’s calling for the repeal of the city’s beverage tax, a reduction of the wage tax to 3% for residents and 2.8% for nonresidents, and lowering the mill rate for property taxes when the assessed value outpaces living costs adjusted for inflation.
He believes reduced taxes won’t lead to service cuts as long as businesses are increasingly attracted to Philly and municipal government spends more efficiently.
One step towards efficient government, Murray believes, is zero-based budgeting — instead of agencies asking for yearly percentage increases based on past spending, officials would have to explain their mission and have a budget built up around it each year, starting at $0. It was a concept that Mayor Kenney campaigned on in 2015, but eschewed after being elected.
Murray’s campaign finance situation
Murray currently has about $66,600 available for Council run, according to his latest campaign finance report. That’s after amassing roughly $81,000 and then spending about $14,500 over the summer. He went into June with less than $5,000 on hand, meaning most of the funds for his general election campaign came together post-primary.
He contributed $40,000 to his campaign in September, and has received large-dollar ($250+) support from multiple others. The executive vice president of Parkway Corporation, for instance, put in $2,500. In a sign of cross-city support, the CEO of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative — founded by District 3 Council candidate Jabari Jones — contributed $500 towards Murray’s campaign.