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ArlingtonAs term nears end, School Board member delivers valedictory

As term nears end, School Board member delivers valedictory

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As she prepares to depart office, Arlington School Board member Monique O’Grady offered some final thoughts at the Dec. 16 School Board meeting.

“It’s been an extreme honor to serve Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington community during extreme times,” O’Grady said at the meeting, which came just two weeks before the expiration of her lone four-year term. She did not seek re-election this year.

“The pandemic has pushed us and continues to challenge us,” said O’Grady, who was spending a year as chair of the five-member body when COVID roared in during the spring of 2020.

Despite the challenges, “we’ve been able to do some work that is taking us in the right direction,” she said.


While having served just four years, O’Grady has witnessed three separate superintendents, with Patrick Murphy leaving in August 2019 and Francisco Durán arriving in June 2020. In between, Cintia Johnson served as the interim superintendent.

O’Grady was a longtime schools activist when, in 2017, she challenged two-term board member James Lander in the Democratic caucus, a race that also included Maura McMahon.

O’Grady won 46 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Lander and 16 percent for McMahon. Under the instant-runoff rules of the caucus, McMahon was eliminated and her votes allocated as directed by her voters, which pushed O’Grady over the 50-percent margin.

The subsequent general election was a mere formality, with O’Grady winning handily against independent Mike Webb.

After O’Grady announced plans not to seek a second term in 2021, the Democratic caucus was won by Mary Kadera, who went on to win the general election (also against Webb, now legally known as Major Mike Webb).

The departure of O’Grady means the 2022 School Board will have three members with less than two years’ experience in office. In addition to Kadera, who joins the body on Jan. 1, it will include David Priddy and Cristina Diaz-Torres, who won election in 2020 after incumbents Nancy Van Doren and Tannia Talento opted not to seek new terms following relatively brief tenures of six and four years, respectively.

Also on the board are Barbara Kanninen, who currently serves as chair, and Reid Goldstein.

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