Political Science, Pre-Law

Quinn Murphy ’24 is getting involved in politics – really involved. The political science/pre-law major is running for mayor of his hometown of Kinderhook, New York.

The unusually timed election for Kinderhook’s leader is held in March (the 15th this year), rather than November, to help it stand out from other political races and keep residents focused on the candidates and issues rather than party lines. And speaking of parties: there technically aren’t any for this race. Candidates announce their platforms and can name their own “party,” in Murphy’s case, the Kinderhook People’s Party.

Murphy was born and raised in the Columbia County village of 1,200, located about 20 minutes south of campus. He commutes to classes at Siena from his family’s home there.

“I can’t think of a better to place to be from or to raise a family,” he said.

Murphy is focused on examining and adopting new ideas that can improve daily life for residents and bring in additional tax revenue. He thinks the village’s infrastructure can stand improvement – particularly the conditions of the roads. He wants to upgrade the town park with better facilities and handicapped accessibility, and attract more visitors to the charming village’s shops and historic homes, situated near the Empire State Trail. 

Murphy and one of his opponents (current village council member Mike Abrams) faced off this past Sunday at a candidate forum in Kinderhook. He traded in a college student’s traditional jeans and hoodie combo for a navy blue suit to meet potential voters. He said he would be “available all day, every day” for constituents, and would like to improve the village's website to include a forum where they could share their concerns and communicate with the village government. He also wants to regulate short-term rentals in the village, saying Kinderhook is not gathering tax revenue from people renting out properties on Airbnb and other websites, according to an Albany Times Union report on the forum.

One issue that’s proving to be a bit contentious is the possibility of opening a CBD dispensary in the village. Murphy said it should at least be explored for the tax revenue possibilities; his opponent remains adamantly opposed.

Murphy was homeschooled while growing up and has been closely connected to the local community through soccer and basketball leagues and his church. He was always interested in politics and current events, and when he was 15, he attended a student leadership program at the state Capitol in Albany where he learned about “the ins and outs of state government,” which further spurred his interest in public service.  

Last year Murphy reached out to Siena President Chris Gibson, Ph.D., who also happens to be a Kinderhook resident, and ask his advice on getting a started in politics. 

“We had a really good conversation about public service,” said Murphy. “He encouraged me to ‘start young and start local.’” 

Through his teaching, Jack Collens, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, has also inspired Murphy’s involvement. 

Collens noted that in the age of social media and nationalized politics, it’s easier than ever to simply turn political interest into a hobby, following the latest news and details of national and international politics. 

“Unfortunately, this behavior only removes us from the stage as actors in our political system,” he said. “The best and most impactful way to remedy that problem is to run for local office. There are more than half a million locally-elected positions in the United States, and each of these officials, from school board member to mayor, has the authority to effect change. I encourage all students to consider stepping off the sidelines and running for office, just as Quinn is doing in his hometown.”

If Murphy wins a four-year mayoral term in the March 15 election, he will be sworn in this spring. He will remain a Siena student while serving his constituents, and follow his plan to attend law school after earning his bachelor’s degree.