Meeting Devin Murphy: 2020 Candidate for Pinole City Council

Anita Chinwuba and Devin Dinh

Devin Dinh

As one of the most talked-about elections in U.S. history hit the nation, my partner, Anita and I, looked at ways where we could see politics develop in the Bay Area. We decided to interview one of the candidates for Pinole City Council, Devin Murphy.

Devin Murphy is a 27-year-old digital strategist in his small business, as well as running a vending machine company. Murphy is a second-generation Pinole resident crediting his success to both Pinole and UCLA. Murphy attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), majoring in African American Studies and Political Science, as well as minoring in Public Policy. UCLA has shaped a large part of his life and perspective as he took part in becoming the Student Body President––gaining his foot into running as a city council candidate in 2020.

In a series of questions that we asked, Murphy revealed his background on running for Pinole City Council in 2020.

What made you run for Pinole City Council?

“I did not always feel like I belonged here; it is hard to see yourself belonging here because you do not look like anybody here. I saw Pinole changing, which was exciting.”

Murphy found his way running for city council for several reasons:
“I have been doing work around communications and local governance for a long time supporting candidates running for office. I have passed many legislations at both state and local levels. I also serve on the planning commission––learning about land-use policy, environmental policy, local and economic development, and decided that we did necessarily not have the representation in Pinole that I think we deserve. I thought there needed to be a lot of the community represented at the council table that was not there.”

How did UCLA contribute to you and your pathway?

UCLA allowed me to define the definition of power: learning more about the distribution of power and equity. UCLA allowed Murphy to understand what social, economic, environmental, and political implications are. UCLA was transformative as he took part in the African Student Union, Bruin Democrats, and a variety of campus organizations encouraging Murphy to run and become student body president.

“I was the first openly gay and black student body president at UCLA.” With becoming student body president, it was a huge learning experience, and [Murphy] was taking advantage of every moment while on campus becoming more self-aware.

“Exposure does not mean tolerance or understanding. However, UCLA allowed me to get that space of diverse understanding and perspective to bring that back to the real-world. [UCLA was a huge part where I] embraced those differences and made them opportunities for growth and pivot forward for growth.”

What do you feel sets you apart from other candidates?

“I’m 27 years old. If elected with the most votes, I will be the youngest mayor, first LGBT mayor, and the first Black mayor in Pinole’s history. As I have had the opportunity to run for City Council is a representation of where we have become as a community and where Pinole can continue to go to.”

“A new generation of leadership for the better of Pinole––that is a movement and opportunity for us. Pinole cannot be great without the young people and the next voices of the town. It is a dismissive act if we don’t center young people in the town. My tag line and age allow me to understand uniquely the differences between what senior folks in the community are experiencing. As well as what young people are dealing with, and finding the bridge between the Pinole population. My level of communication sets me apart as a strategist, small business owner, millennial entrepreneur, and community organizer. I have a history in community organizing through electoral politics, issues to criminal justice reform, environmental justice, voting rights––and national organizations have endorsed me because of this.”

As we look at the younger generation, youth are the lobby and should view themselves as such. “We are young people and have a lot to say that comes with authority, privilege, and responsibility.”

If elected to Pinole City Council, what do you envision for Pinole in the future?

Murphy has stated three things that he hopes Pinole to have in the future. “First, building a roadmap to COVID-19 recovery and making sure that the city doesn’t dissolve financially, especially along the retail corridors throughout the town. And when businesses aren’t going, the city can’t provide the necessary services beneficial to the city and the people. Recovery is not about going back to where we were, but finding the economic development necessary for the city and progressing forward.”

“Second, building a green economy as Pinole’s trails, waterfront, parks are essential to the town.” Murphy wants residents to spend their money in Pinole, especially on green energy. Residents have to visit surrounding towns to purchase solar or any other green energy necessities. “Preserving our green public spaces: our library, senior center, are parks, and are central to our character.”

Third, increasing community engagement, especially to bridge the gap between the younger and the older generation. It is “truly about going to the people, not people coming to you. Which unfortunately has been the model of local governance in the town.” We have to communicate better with our residents. The City of Pinole created a Facebook page recently, and without this, people could have no form of communication with the city. “Young people need to be a part of that conversation; it is very dire to have those under 18 to have their voices heard,” and Murphy has ambitions to reinvigorate the youth commission.

What is your advice for a high schooler who wants to make a difference?

“Always write a list. List ten things you want, and from that list, find the top 3 things you want and imagine the stakeholder or the person with the most power you believe can change that. The next step would be to want to actualize this and go to that person. While it may be uncomfortable, or people may say you’re wrong or not right––that’s okay, let them. Other individuals will hear your voice and be in alliance on working together for a shared goal.”

“Upset the setup,” a line that resonated with Murphy, spoken by Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, CA. Some things have created the way that they are supposed to form and intentionally not to be here for everyone. Some of these have solutions, but little change occurs because people don’t want them to as it requires them to be honest of themselves and to share power.”

We have to challenge what people say, but ultimately we are all on the same team and have to be part of the same solution.

For high school seniors, do you have any other advice for those who are going through the college application process?

“Find the things you like, find five core strengths of yours that you can use in your college applications, work experience, resume, etc. While it may not be the ideal time to apply for college, given the many circumstances this year, you still have the privilege of strength and identifying the things in your core competency that will brighten that.”

“When you are applying, please single out that you are excellent in many ways. Take the initiative and courage to follow through and tell others what happened. Be bold and know your strengths. Being bold helps you even out those mistakes, failures that you have and push through. Understand that no one person will ever hold you back.”

“Keep mentoring, that is important for high schoolers,” as it is a vital skill to teach and learn from others, something that is an everyday thing in politics.

What is the last thing you would like the Pinole community to know about you?

“I want [everyone] to get activated and at the forefront of politics, is a different time for everyone. Don’t sit back and let this opportunity not be your opportunity; even with conflict comes great opportunity. Especially for high schoolers and the younger generation, who is at the forefront [of many social movements today], if you get active now, you will truly transform the country the way you want. I am also passionate that the local government is responsive to the needs of young people,” Murphy stated.

Anita and I would like to thank Devin Murphy for his time and the opportunity to get to chat on being a candidate for Pinole City Council. Murphy expressed concerns about bridging the youth’s voice with the revitalizing a youth board/commission as there is little bridge between local government and those who are unheard. We wish the best for Murphy and can’t wait for the outcomes of the 2020 Election.