Josh Murray is an Army veteran and activist whose current fight shows us that even in a small town elected officials who aren’t held accountable, will use their power to take advantage of taxpayers.

Born in Germany but raised in Garland, Texas, Murray comes from a family of service. His own Army service has taken him across the globe, from Texas to Iraq and Afghanistan to Georgia, but he and his family now call Lavon home. After fighting selflessly for his fellow Americans, he now fights for his fellow residents of Lavon. Although relatively new to the city, Murray refuses to accept the status quo of his bedroom community’s local government.

His activism began when he became aware of a government retaliation issue regarding his Home Owner’s Association (HOA) and the City of Lavon. The city secretary’s grandson had volunteered to guard the pool, but after repeated complaints of his behavior, was asked to leave. Following that, the HOA manager was threatened to have permits denied for a number of planned events. This incident was brought to the attention of the mayor, but the secretary was never held accountable.

This is why Murray is demanding accountability.

Murray said, “These problems have been going on for too long in our city, they get pushed to the side and residents are made to feel they don’t matter. We are a free nation that is held accountable by the people.” Since Murray began demanding answers on behalf of his community, he has faced his own forms of retaliation. The mayor of Lavon has taken to the city’s closed Facebook page to verbally chastise him, going as far as to say, “Your last two rants got no comments or likes. Can you not take a hint?” The mayor also told Murray, “I’ll see you at the next meeting for another mindless rant.” Regarding the retaliation, Murray said, “It is not easy on me or my family, but it is the right thing to do!”

Following this initial inquiry into the HOA incident, Murray’s research has churned up much more deception. He discovered that the Lavon Police Chief also had an employee contract to be the chief of operations. When he brought this to the attention of the mayor and city council, hoping to encourage dialogue about city employment contracts, most said they weren’t aware of the contract.

“We are changing this city … we will fix this city,” said Murray. Through his effort, he is gradually increasing turnout to Lavon City Council meetings. He has since created a group called Accountable and Transparent Lavon to give other residents a forum to voice their concerns and share information. He is also planning to host meetings to engage and organize residents so they can better shape the direction of their community. A friend of Murray’s said, “…he is rocking the boat, and they don’t like it.”

Murray hopes that small battles will win the larger war of officials being accountable to their constituents. When asked about his hopes for the future of the movement he said, “I believe with social media and the Internet, officials won’t be able to get away with this anymore.”

Josh Murray is a tireless fighter, whether he is protecting our nation or protecting the interests of his fellow taxpayers. He says he is “simply fighting for the very thing that makes us American. That’s transparency and accountability.”

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.