My Journey

My name is Melissa Murphy, and I am running for the sole Select Board seat opening for the Town of Reading in the May 14th, 2024 special election.

I am running for Select Board because I want to make a difference in this town.  I want to use my capability, energy, and ideas to help make Reading the best place for my family and yours.

For many years I have been a part of the Reading community holding multiple roles in town affairs. I have held roles in the Wood End PTO, Wood End School Council, Connect the Tots (a town mom’s group), and most recently, as a Town Meeting member for the last 3+ years.

My husband, Brian, and I moved to Reading in 2008 after an exhaustive search of North Shore communities.  With our goal of having a large family and establishing roots in the community, we knew we needed easy access to Boston and a safe community where we could raise our children near friends and family.  Reading was and has been the ideal location for our family.  We have lived in the same house since 2008 and have built lifelong relationships with people in our community over the past fifteen years.



I have a degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University.  Before starting my family, I worked for eight years as a paralegal at a law firm specializing in plaintiff civil litigation and complex tort litigation.   In 2012, I stepped back from this career to focus on raising our growing family and dove into the Reading Community happenings.  Through my education and experience, I have developed a strong background in researching and analyzing complicated issues and have cultivated an ability to clearly communicate the impacts of statutes and administrative guidelines on those issues to others.  This background will be very helpful in a role as a Select Board member.

We have raised our four children Isabelle (15), Elizabeth (13), Annaliese (11) & Thomas (10), in our home on Van Norden Road.  In addition, our home would not have been complete without our beloved Leonberger dogs, Gus and Bear.

As a Reading resident for the past 16 years, I have made many connections and relationships in our town. While balancing raising our four children, I have volunteered my time and energy to improve our town and schools as much as possible.  Starting with Connect the Tots and continuing with the Wood End PTO, Wood End School Council, and now, Town Meeting. In my time volunteering in different capacities, it is gratifying to see the difference that can be made when everyone comes together.

Unfortunately, I have also seen changes that concern me.  Over the past few years, I have witnessed a growing divide between elected officials in this Town. I intend to work tirelessly to change that.  I have also witnessed many town, and school decisions, spending, and activities become overly political and divisive.  This isn’t productive. We must return to being a town government that can simply get things done for its residents. Major national political issues and parties should not factor into the activities and decisions in Reading. ALL residents deserve a fair hearing, equal accessibility, and equal priority, no matter their viewpoints.

As a Select Board member, I would strive to ensure that all residents have a voice. I am a firm believer in communication and respect.  If elected, I promise to have a professional, respectful, open line of communication with all residents, business owners, boards, and fellow Select Board members.  Even if I disagree with your opinions, I will always honor your right as a citizen of this great country to express them.   Progress is made only when two parties recognize that a person with an opposing view is not an adversary. The best ideas often come from listening and debating.  I know we can work together!


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Symonds Way
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MBTA Communities
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Eastern Gateway
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Killam School
📺 Select Board Candidate Forum
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📑 Priorities

I have six key priorities as a Select Board Member candidate:

Responsible  Spending


MBTA  Communities


Water  Rate$


Supporting  Residents  &  Small  Business  Owners


Improved  Services  &  Support


Open  Communication

🪙 Responsible Spending

Reading residents will be faced with financing two large, essential projects in the next couple of years:  renovating or replacing the Killam Elementary School and renovating or replacing our current senior center with a Senior/multi-generational center.  Both projects will require large debt exclusion overrides, likely totaling $150 million or more in new debt.  Even with possible state support and two other projects (the high school and the library) finally getting paid off, Reading residents will still face hundreds of dollars a year in additional taxes from these essential projects.  Now is the time to ensure Town spending is focused on the highest priority items, to ensure that Reading residents can afford to pay for everything and still have money left to cover their own needs.  I believe both of these projects will benefit the entire community, but with so much uncertainty in the economy and persistent inflation, the last thing we want to do is burden residents with higher tax bills, water bills, electric bills, etc.  As a Select Board member, I would strive to ensure that our town controls the pace, scope, and timing of other initiatives and projects to ensure that residents can afford to fund these projects and town needs. 

🚉 MBTA Communities

In August 2022, the state finalized its community guidelines to comply with the MBTA Communities Law. The law requires every MBTA community, including Reading, to have at least one zoning district where multi-family housing (at least three units on one property) is allowed as of right and located near a transit station.  

What does this mean for Reading?

Under the law, Reading is considered a Commuter Rail Community. This means we must zone for a minimum of 1,493 units, with at least half within a ½ mile of the train depot. After numerous public hearings and a townwide survey, we are currently in Phase 4 of our process. After CPDC and town staff comprehensively analyze alternatives, the plan is scheduled to be presented at Fall Town Meeting.

I am concerned with the MBTA Communities Law and how it will redefine Reading’s landscape, especially the neighborhoods in Precinct 5.  We need to proceed cautiously with the minimum requirements the state has set.  These new zoning laws will bring in new growth money over time, but I am concerned with the other strains on our budgets.  Such as the Town’s infrastructure, schools, and public safety resources.  

🚰 Water Rate$

Massachusetts law requires a base rate for water charges and fees with increased rates for high-volume users. Under the law, water charges and fees incorporate a base rate for all users and an increasing block rate to reflect high-volume water users' resource demand and consumption. Simply put, those who use more water pay more.

In June 2023, the Select Board approved a new five-tiered water rate system by a 3-2 vote.  The new rates went into effect in December of 2023.  The Select Board voted on the five-tiered system, with the lowest users paying $10.75 per 100 cubic feet and the highest users paying $12.50 per 100 cubic feet, which is approximately a ten percent increase in their water bill.  The five and ten percent increase for the top tiers is not fair or equitable.  In addition, multi-family homes and condo complexes are unfairly penalized for having only one meter.  

I believe the contrast in the tiers needs to be reviewed so that large, multigenerational families are not penalized. The Select Board also needs to devise a solution to resolve the inequity that this new tiered system is causing for multifamily, apartment, and condo complex owners.

🧾 Supporting Residents & Small Business Owners

Our downtown needs small businesses to thrive.  Our hard-working small businesses can only be successful with community support.  Over the past few years, these businesses have been hindered by increased taxes and rising supply costs, which have caused several businesses to go under. This has left our town with underutilized buildings and extended real estate vacancies.  One glaring example is where the town currently imposes bans on certain types of plastics on all businesses in Reading. While I understand the positive intent, this ban is having a significant impact on our small businesses' bottom lines.  These businesses sometimes run on slim profit margins as is; add to this costly plastic alternative and supply chain issues, and the impact is consequential.  Better communication and dialog on this issue could have helped here.  While this ban was being proposed, most small businesses were in the dark. Many businesses reported hearing about it from non-official sources, like the Chamber of Commerce. Is it any wonder that the businesses are closing and/or moving elsewhere?

🤝 Improved Services & Support

We need to find ways to communicate better about town project details and changes that could significantly impact the ability of residents to do business downtown. For example, the downtown is replete with multiple water main projects, 40R developments, and other construction that limits access to streets, parking lots, and businesses.  This is to be expected in any community, but we need a better strategy to clearly communicate to residents when road closures will take place and how long they will last.  Many residents I talk to are simply frustrated and limiting their downtown shopping. I also have to believe that non-residents who find roads blocked with poorly marked or non-existent detours are less likely to want to do business in Reading.   Select Board members are the Road Commissioners in Reading, and as a Select Board member, I would be proactive in helping establish better lines of communication with residents about road closures, detours, and parking changes.   

Our senior community is the pillar of Reading.  We need to do everything possible to ensure that seniors can afford to remain in their homes.  Reading has a senior citizen property tax exemption, but that is not enough. Large debt exclusions are coming, and water and electric bills continue to rise by double-digit levels.  Our Reading town government may not be able to control inflation, but we can at least control and improve the services we provide to our seniors. My priority will be to support seniors by ensuring they are getting the appropriate elder services, VA benefits, senior tax breaks, applying for appropriate programs to help with energy costs, and, of course, a new and/or improved Senior Center that is appropriately staffed to provide the programs and services our seniors need. 


💬 Open Communication

Select Board members are elected officials intended to be the voice of our town. My goal is to bring people together. I have seen a growing divide in our town over the past several years.  I believe that the Select Board has a responsibility to unite the town, not further divide it. I am certain that there will be issues some disagree on, but I believe we can come to a common ground to make progress.  This requires open-minded and respectful communication, which I pledge to be my priority.  

In conclusion, I promise to dedicate my time and effort to making Reading a community we all can love.  My decision-making will always be guided by my belief that I want to improve the lives of all Reading residents.  I will have an open line of communication with all residents and would encourage you to reach out to me with any concerns, and hopefully, I can earn your support.