Tamara Grady had several reasons for wanting to run for a spot on the Osseo School Board. At the top of her long list was trying to make a difference for her children.
Grady will now have that chance.
The Northfield native, who has lived in Maple Grove for five years, was elected to the Osseo School Board in the General Election on Nov. 3. Grady was among the group of 11 candidates vying for three open positions on the Board.
Grady garnered 12.8% of the vote (19,447) to earn her spot on the Board. In a very tight race, incumbents Heather Douglass and Jackie Mosqueda-Jones kept their spots on the Board. Douglass had 19,038 votes for 12.8%, and Mosqueda-Jones had 18,297 votes for 12.1%.
Thomas Brooks won the special election for the spot vacated by Jessica Craig. Her four-year term starts in January.
Narrowly missing out being elected was Miamon Queeglay, who had 10.5% of the vote (15,290). Current Board Chair Mike Ostaffe had 10.4% (15,804) and will not return to the Board.
“I was sort of stunned, and I was so tired. I was like ‘Are those really my numbers?’ Grady said. “I’m looking at my kids and my family and they said ‘yes, those are your numbers.’ I was so focused on the campaign, so it was hard to tell
“One of the things that was really tough about campaigning and COVID – social media was one of my better presences in the district, but you don’t get that level of feedback and engagement when you don’t have that in-person reaction, so in a lot of ways it was hard to tell how my message was getting out. A few thousand people can see our community conversations event, but only a few people comment.”
Ready to committ
Grady moved from Minnesota to New York in high school. She met her eventual husband, Kevin, at Syracuse University. They moved to Oregon, where Grady earned her bachelor of science and master’s degree in anthropology.
She is currently taking classes at Metro State University, where she is working on earning on a degree in masters in advocacy and political leadership.
Grady’s two children are both in the Osseo School District. They both identify as LGBTQ. Grady said they’ve struggled with previous experiences, and one of her missions is to help achieve equality.
“The classes taught me that messaging is important and for it to be inclusive and to bring people together,” Grady said. “I think the biggest skill development I had with running the campaign was trying to reach people in these COVID days. COVID made trying to get engagement and reach people very difficult. But I feel very strongly that as a leader, it’s my job to represent all of the people in the district, and that takes a lot of work. I think in the future, I think that’s something all school board candidates should do.
“That’s why I went to school,” she said. “I started advocating for LGBTQ students and I found that speaking in front of the school board is helpful, but I wanted to be closer connected to making it better for every student.”
Issues, however, go well beyond COVID-19. Grady said she is like many in that she wants students and educators in school whenever possible, but only as long as it’s safe.
Other issues related to the virus are also of major concern for Grady, including mental health.
“We need to address the mental health crisis. It’s tough for kids to interact on Zoom, and it’s tough for adults,” Grady said. “The sense of loss that we’re experiencing through the tragedy of COVID as well as the social unrest and racial disparities we’re experiencing. It’s been a tough year for everybody. I’d like everybody to know to just hang in there and focus on loving and supporting you’re child and that we’ll get through this.
“The district has been very wise to follow the Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health’s recommendations. My biggest concern in this moment is some of our most vulnerable students who are missing some services and connections. We need to focus on making sure they’re needs are being met and that we’re doing the outreach we need with families to check in on them and let them know that we’re going to get through this together.”