LEON — Sometimes there’s no time like the present.
After observing the processes of state government up close during the work stoppage by educators and service personnel, Amy Grady, a teacher at Leon Elementary, has decided to go big or go home and run for State Senate.
Grady will be running as an Independent and because she missed the filing period for the May Primary, will appear on the November ballot only. She has already filed her pre-candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s Office and is eligible to officially file April 28. She has already collected the 226 signatures from registered voters in the district needed to file.
Grady said she’d previously thought about running for office at some point in her life but the unplanned tipping point was the movement by educators and service personnel taking their fight over insurance and pay to the State Capitol for days and days.
“If there’s ever a year a teacher’s going to win, it would be this year,” she said. “We don’t trust our senators…we need people in there that people can relate to and trust.”
Grady said there was no one “Aha” moment during the work stoppage that inspired her to run for office, it was instead, a cumulative effect.
“I’ve been talking to people from different counties and listening to teachers say we don’t have enough teachers and women in there (state government), and we don’t have enough people who are listening to us in there. We do need educators making decisions for public education.”
Grady said this wasn’t a decision she took lightly, adding she prayed about it and talked it over with her husband, Jack.
“I decided to go ahead and go for it. What have I got to lose?“
She admits one of the biggest obstacles to running a grassroots campaign is funding but she’s already set up guidelines for how she wants to run her race.
“I don’t have as much money as my opponents and I will not take donations from large companies…I’m accepting donations from friends and family,” Amy said. “We’ll be doing what we can with what we have. I’m going to have fun with it…meet people. I’m not going to stress over it. If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s will.”
Amy, who teaches fourth grade at Leon Elementary, said if she would win, she would take unpaid leave during the legislative session which means she could lose some seniority but it was important she keep her job in trying to affect change for her profession and beyond.
“Keeping my job is important to me because I love it..that’s the whole reason I wanted to do this (run for office),” she explained.
As for why she thinks she’s personally suited to be in politics, Amy said: “The thing about me is, I have always had a gift of putting other people’s feelings ahead of my own. Sometimes that’s a curse but I wouldn’t be a good mother, or friend, or wife, or teacher, if I didn’t do that and in order to be a good senator you need to do that…it’s not about your needs. I don’t feel like we get enough of that.”
While spending days at the State Capitol, Amy said she saw much frustration on the faces of colleagues whom she spoke with when she wasn’t speaking to legislators to express her own concerns.
“I have a feeling I would have support because everyone is so frustrated, and aggravated, and disappointed in what we have representing us now,” she said. “We have people we elected that are voting based on their agenda, not listening to the people. We need some of ‘us’ in there.”
Amy is a 1998 graduate of Point Pleasant High School who attended Marietta College and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from WVU. She has been employed with Mason County Schools for 10 years. She and husband Jack live in Leon with their three children Rhett 10, Eastyn, 5 and Chesney, 1.
Also running to represent the Fourth Senatorial District, which includes Mason County, are Eric J. Tarr (R-Scott Depot), Mark Drennan (R-Hurricane), Brian Prim (D-Fraziers Bottom). Drennan was appointed to the seat currently up for grabs following former State Senator Mike Hall being appointed as Gov. Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff.
In addition to Amy, Todd Mullins, a custodian at Leon Elementary, has also said he is running as an Independent candidate in November for the 13th District in the House of Delegates.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.