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Five questions with commissioner-elect Deborah Murphy

Deborah Murphy discusses her decision to run, her leadership style and issues facing the barrier island.

Deborah Murphy will take her seat on the Longboat Key Town Commission in March 2023.
Deborah Murphy will take her seat on the Longboat Key Town Commission in March 2023.
Photo by Lauren Tronstad
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Deborah Murphy will be entering her first time as a Longboat Key Commissioner in the District 5 seat March 2023. 

Prior to moving to the barrier island, Murphy was a longtime resident of Montgomery County, Maryland. 

She served as the owner of Standard Supplies, Inc, a family-owned business that sold construction materials and tools. 

Longboat Key was originally planned to be a vacation spot rather than her full-time residence, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted plans and she has since fallen in love with the island. 

Longboat Key Observer writer Lauren Tronstad sat down with Murphy recently to discuss her decision to seek a seat on the commission and her hopes for Longboat’s future. 

What led to your decision to seek a seat on the commission?

It was completely out of the blue. I’m the president of Longbeach Condominiums, and I still have one more year left on my term. We had some issues on the board in the last year, and I really felt that there was an opportunity for me to do something different. Maureen Merrigan, who lives right around the corner from me, called me and explained her situation that she was not going to be seeking another term. She felt an obligation as a commissioner to talk to people that she knew in the neighborhood and see if there was an interest. Immediately, my antenna went up. My grandfather was a mayor; I grew up in a family that was very political…So to answer your question, it was really a phone call.”

What have you learned from Longboat Key’s past? 

When I moved here, I started to really understand more about the ecological stuff…It has been a surprising interest for me because I didn’t grow up being interested in ecological things, but here it is a really big thing. It’s going to be a focus here on this island because of what is happening with sea rise, what’s happening with the fact that we need better drainage systems. I was reading this newspaper avidly even before I was even thinking about becoming a commissioner because I really am interested in staying abreast and understanding what’s going on on the island. Really understanding and getting more involved in the ecological side is something I think is important, and that we have to invest in.

What is Longboat Key all about?

I think that Longboat Key is everybody’s dream of what a beach paradise looks like between the beautiful blue water, powdery sand. We simply don’t have the turnover of rentals that you see on Anna Maria Island, and on Siesta Key it’s more congested. We have the beauty of being in a tropical paradise. We’re lucky because the residents have chosen to keep it that way. They want to be able to see more residential homes; we want to limit rentals and turnover. We all understand that that keeps this peaceful serene atmosphere, which is why people seek to come here and live here.  

How would you describe your leadership style?

I describe my leadership style as servant leadership…I look at myself as the maestro that keeps the orchestra working together. I don’t look at myself as above anybody else. I look at myself as the chief cheerleader. I’m trying to keep everybody working together and coordinating. I think it works better that way…My grandfather used to tell me “We own shares of stock in our company, but the people that are most important are the stakeholders. The people that come here everyday because they need to feel that they are as much a part of what is going on here as those that own the company.” That was the sole philosophy that I grew up in. 

What is the most pressing issue for Longboat Key moving forward?

Ecological. I really do think all the things we’re looking at here have to do with roads, drainage and investing in what we are doing with sea level rise…I like the fact that we are being proactive about (sea level rise). There’s a sense of ownership that everybody on this island is wanting to work to preserve the integrity of this island. It’s also maintaining the feeling of this beach paradise. There’s something about Longboat Key that has a sort of residential tranquility, which is evidenced by the people that continue to live here for generations. 



Lauren Tronstad

Lauren Tronstad is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2021. Before moving to Florida, she worked for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

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