A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy, the current mayor of Valparaiso, has been serving in his position for four years now. This title fits him well as he’s resided in Valparaiso for most of his life, growing up on Franklin Street. His life really has become one big cycle of adventure. 

From the get-go, it’s all been about humble beginnings. However, those beginnings wound up leading to tremendous things that have profound effects. Murphy’s beginnings start with his education, which is rooted in the experiences he garnered while attending an array of schools in Valpo, from Central Elementary School and Ben Franklin Middle School to Valparaiso High School and Valparaiso University. He received his MBA from Valparaiso University after completing the tail end of his undergraduate years at Indiana University. 

Murphy has continually understood the significance of Valparaiso. It’s provided him with opportunity and granted chances he perhaps wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Living in Valpo has opened his eyes to the greatness of the city, as it has for many that are lucky enough to call it home. 

“I grew up here and I’ve always known that Valparaiso is a special place. I was once able to speak with former Governor Mitch Daniels on the phone. He said to me, ‘Valpo is the star Northwest Indiana,’ and that became a theme of my campaign because I really think it to be true. We are a really special community—a community that believes in giving back, believes in leadership, believes in education, believes in public safety, and is a great place to raise a family and gracefully grow old,” he said.  

Having to fill a big pair of shoes upon first getting elected, Murphy got to work right away, compromising where he could while building on his hopes and wishes for the city, whatever they were. Succeeding Jon Costas, who did much for Valpo during his 16-year tenure as mayor, was no easy hurdle to hop over. In order to see undeniable change, it takes patience, perseverance, and passion, all of those P’s being qualities that Murphy has displayed since the beginning of his career in politics.

“When Mayor Costas made the decision not to seek a fifth term, I thought long and hard about running for mayor to continue the positive direction he had put the city in. I was just convinced—and I believe this to this day—that the mayor of your town is so important for setting the direction of your community. That’s why I was drawn to it that way. I ultimately made the decision to throw my hat in the ring and to build a campaign, and I was successful, winning in November of 2019,” he said. 

A couple of factors influenced Murphy’s decision to land in the field he’s been a part of for quite some time now. Growing up around people who spent years involved in local government is one crucial thing that has assisted Murphy in making sense of the complexity of being mayor. 

“My dad was an elected official on the county level, serving as county treasurer and county auditor for many years, so I grew up attending political functions with my parents. I wouldn't say they encouraged me to get into it when I got older, but it was built into my DNA—being involved and civic-minded,” he said. “I model a lot of what I do after what my parents did, as they stayed active in their community. Now, I get up every day and try to do the best job I can. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by an amazing team, and that’s what sets us apart.”

Unfortunately, Murphy will not be able to serve as mayor forever. With this term being his last, the clock is ticking and his time as mayor is dwindling. He is using this time to display the strengths and meaningfulness of his overall vision for the city one last time around. 

“March is nearing its end, so we've got nine months left. My major goal is to finish strong, and I think we will because we've got some major initiatives that we're working on. For example, our community sports campus is something that we’re going to hopefully break ground on this summer, which will be a great addition to our parks department. The second big thing would be the construction of the Lincoln Highway parking garage downtown,” he said. “There's a lot going on, so we're just keeping our nose to the grindstone to get stuff done. After all, that's why we're here.”

When he’s away from the office, far from making the consequential but necessary moves required for the sake of the stability of the city he’s so passionately looked after, Murphy’s usually spending time with his children. They’re an energetic bunch, so keeping up with them is both a challenge and a joy. 

Besides family time, Murphy enjoys exercising and relishes the many paths and trails spread throughout various locations in Valparaiso. Having a well-earned break and taking in the fresh air is always a pleasure. 

“I've got four kids. They’re such different ages, so they enjoy so many things like swimming and riding bikes. I spend as much time as I can with my kids and my wife and just enjoy my family,” Murphy said. “I enjoy walking the trails and enjoying all of what our pathways bring to the city. One of my favorite things to do is to simply throw in my earbuds, go out, and get some fresh air. We have safe neighborhoods as well, so there’s plenty of room for fun and exploration,” he said.