Libertarian's Congressional bid nothing new for her

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | 12:28 a.m. CDT
Tamara Millay

There were 37 of them, all singing songs for their cause. And, later, donning handcuffs for it.

Tamara Millay, the Libertarian candidate for the 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, calls that her proudest moment: protesting the Iraq War in 2002, before it even began.

Tamara Millay

HOMETOWN: Greendale

PERSONAL: 41. She is married to Tom Knapp. They have two boys.



OCCUPATION: Administrative professional at the Washington University School of Medicine

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Webster University

BACKGROUND: Ran for U.S. Senate in 1998 and 2002; ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2006; served as city marshal of Greendale in 2004; former St. Louis County Chair of the Libertarian Party; member of Ladies Auxiliary VFW; sought Libertarian Party vice-presidential nomination in 2004.

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A shipment of JDAMs — joint direct-attack munitions, used to convert unguided gravity bombs into "smart bombs" — were scheduled to leave Boeing's St. Louis plant at the time.

"We were supposed to block that action," Millay said. "They let us onto their property, we sang some songs. ... It was shift-change time, so we blocked (the main) entrance and were trespassing at that time.

"It made me really proud to be among a group of people who felt that strongly about the issue," she added.

Millay, 41, grew up in a small town in Illinois. It was her parents who taught her to get involved in the political process.

"I remember them taking me with them to vote," she said. "And just believing there's no such thing as a free lunch. You have to work hard to get ahead. At the same time, it's important to give back."

In 1984, she joined the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in honor of her father, a World War II veteran. There, she served as post pianist for a number of years.

Millay made the move to Missouri permanent in 1989.

Now, she lives in Greendale, a small suburb of St. Louis, with her husband, Tom Knapp, and two boys. There, she was elected city marshal in 2004 amid a flurry of controversy. The city marshal is in charge of property inspections.

At the time, the city board wanted to make the position an appointed one — something Millay strongly opposed.

"We felt like a person who was appointed by the city board would be far more willing to listen to what the city board wanted rather than advocate for the residents," she said. "That was very much my experience, having to try to advocate for the citizens in a city that was very much trying to advocate for the letter rather than the spirit of the law."

The effort failed, and Millay was subsequently elected to the post.

Greendale is actually outside the 9th District, but she says she'd happily move to meet residency requirements if elected.

Unlike the major-party candidates, she's unable to devote her whole attention to campaigning. She works full-time at the Washington University School of Medicine as an administrative professional at the Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group.

"Tamara has not been as active this campaign as she usually is because her work has been taking up so much of her time," said Knapp, the current St. Louis County chair of the Libertarian Party, a position Millay held previously. "But we always want voters to have a Libertarian choice. Every campaign is the same, it's just how much you can get done."

Knapp should know. He's also running for Congress, as the Libertarian candidate for the 2nd District seat.

Unlike the Republican and Democratic candidates, who are sure to take the lion's share of the popular vote, Millay has different goals in mind. For her, it's about having third-party views respected by the eventual winner.

"I think at this point, the Libertarian Party, certainly here in Missouri, is getting more and more media," Millay said, "and I'd like to think that in some races we make a difference in who wins the election. I think that to a certain respect who loses versus who wins comes to regard our opinions with respect to voters."

Millay has run for the U.S. House of Representatives five times, first in 1996. She sought the party's vice presidential nomination in 2004 and came in second. She also ran for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and again in 2002, against Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Jean Carnahan. She called that year "quite interesting."

"I was credited with having some effect by virtue of being on the ballot and people voting for me in the final outcome," Millay said. "And I got to participate in a debate that was televised on C-SPAN."

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