Minneapolis School Board
Christa Mims: ‘Every moment we lose, kids fall through the cracks’
October 23, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
MINNEAPOLIS — Christa Mims says she is running with a sense of “urgency” for the District 4 seat on the Minneapolis School Board. “Every moment that we lose, our kids are falling through the cracks,” says Mims, who wants to be an advocate for kids at the school board level.
District 4 includes part of downtown Minneapolis and part of south Minneapolis, bordered roughly by Lake Street on the south, Bassett’s Creek and I-394 on the north, and I-35W on the east.
Mims is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the DFL Party. Her other labor endorsements include the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council and the SEIU Minnesota State Council.
Mims placed first in the three-way primary and won 44.37 percent of the vote.
The one-term District 4 incumbent, Bob Walser, is not running for re-election.
Mims currently works as a social worker for Hennepin County assisting children and families who are involved in the county’s child protection system, a job she has had for the past three years.
For the past two years, her work has included leading county efforts to address the educational disparities faced by her clients, who are largely youth of color and who have some of the worst academic outcomes.
“We know what a game-changer education can be” for these young people’s future, she says. “I’m focused on how I can partner with the schools” to improve education outcomes for her clients, who may be in foster care, or on probation, or be teen parents, or be in the truancy program, or have mental health issues.
“These kids are my heart,” Mims says.
“As the pandemic has happened, I’ve seen what’s happened to the kids who are least resourced,” she reports, adding that she is “immersed in the data of the racial disparities we have in the system.”
“This is a monumental time for Minneapolis. There are so many complex issues happening right now,” Mims says. “We need to be thinking about our youth and prioritizing our youth.”
The fact that so many problems are so deeply-rooted can be discouraging, she notes. But “we need to continue moving forward and not get trapped up by finding a perfect answer that solves everything.”
A key part of the solution, Mims says: more resources for the schools. “We ask so much of schools, school staff, teachers, the buildings,” Mims says. “We need to provide enough resources” and not keep adding more and more onto the backs of school staff.
Another part of the solution, she adds: changing the way the school district engages with the city’s diverse communities and families. “The way we engage with communities now is not an accessible process… That’s something we need to change.”
She notes that the families who are not responding to the school district’s traditional means of outreach have the biggest challenges — “and also have the answers.”
As a member of a helping profession, Mims says, she feels a connection with teachers. “We need resources and support to do our job and help our kids.”
Mims grew up in White Bear Lake, attending K-12 schools there. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota-Morris and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Southern California.
In beginning her job at Hennepin County, Mims became a member of AFSCME Local 34.
She says her big brother is Ryan Mims, a member of Glaziers Local 1324, and “he was so excited when I joined AFSCME.”
The two union members are half-siblings and, on Ryan’s side, both his father and grandfather were union members.
Mims’ mother is a nurse.
“We’re very proud of our union tradition,” Mims says.
“I’m so thankful for AFSCME Local 34,” she adds. “They advocated for us to get Personal Protective Equipment. They’re really pushing to make sure our members are taken care of… [and] to protect our workers.”
“I’m a proud Local 34 member,” Mims says.
Mims lives in downtown Minneapolis.