Updated 1-5-09 – Brenda Konkel has the scoop.
School Board ends up with the biggest surprise:
School Board – NO RACES
Maya Cole unopposed
Beth Moss unopposed
James Howard walks into the seat vacated by Johnny Winston Jr.
Tom Farley, despite getting my signature and a couple others at 4:30, failed to get 100 signatures and is not on the ballot
There are three seats up on the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education this Spring. So far it looks like two incumbents — Beth Moss and Maya Cole — will be seeking re-election unopposed and the open seat vacated by Johnny Winston Jr will be contested by at least two candidates, James Howard and Tom Farely.
Farley’s entry may raise the profile of this race. He’s best known as the brother of the late comedian (and Madison/Maple Bluff native) Chris Farley. Tom Farley authored/edited an oral history of his brother and is a founder of a substance abuse prevention foundation inspired by his brother’s death. He is also a marketer and motivational speaker (irony abounds). He’s served on some city and county committees but doesn’t appear to have been much involved with MMSD.
Back in September Farley announced on his Twitter page that he was running for Lt. Governor; news reports from that time make it clear that he was intending to run as a Republican. That didn’t happen and now he’s running for School Board and claiming a relatively long standing Democratic affiliation. In a comment on the Cap Times story on his candidacy, Farley wrote:
To be very honest, coming to grips with my party affiliation has been an interesting journey – especially since returning to Madison six years ago. In short, was a Republican but have now firmly embraced my Democratic soul (I joined the Dem. Party of Dane Cty during last year’s election – and voted Obama).
I’ll leave it to the reader to parse the relative values Farley places on his soul, his political affiliations and his ambitions.
In another comment on that same story Farley displays a disturbing ignorance about the Madison Board of Education. In explaining his candidacy he refers to his experiences as a parent of a “special needs” student and adds:
I feel that bringing that perspective and unique voice to the school board is something long overdue.
It would be difficult to have much knowledge of the Madison School Board and not know that Beth Moss is a parent of a student receiving special education services and that both prior to and since her election she has been active locally and at the state level as an advocate on special education issues. Very difficult; almost impossible.
Open meetings pander to people’s fears and mistrust of civic leaders; they hinder enlightened and creative solutions; and they actually enable citizens to continue to harbor unsubstantiated, biased judgements (sic) about everything under the sun. Show me any functioning socialist government (if possible), and I’ll show you a group of leaders still able to email their colleagues, hold a conference call or have a job-related discussion with peers while sitting around the”popular table” in the “People’s Cafeteria”. Here in Madison we can’t do any of that without posting a meeting notice one week prior.
Open meetings certainly sound “fair”, but fair doesn’t create great cities.
Farley’s been very busy in comments sections lately, interested voters may also want to check out his thoughts on the Freedom From Religion Foundation posted on the recent Isthmus story .
One thing I can say for Farley’s announced opponent, James Howard is that he has a good awareness of the workings of the Madison schools and School Board developed over years of active involvement. In fact the headline of the story announcing his run read: “James Howard, active in Madison schools, to run for Winston’s board seat.” He served on the East Area Long Range Planning Committee a few years ago and on the recent Strategic Planning Team. I worked with him when we were both among the co-chairs of the 2006 Community and Schools Together (CAST) referendum campaign (he wasn’t active in the 2008 effort) and on Beth Moss’s 2007 campaign. He’ll bring some knowledge and experience to the race.
Maya Cole announced her candidacy for re-election in an email to supporters on December 27. It reads in part:
Although I am far from satisfied with what we have accomplished (a personality flaw), I do believe I have provided some valuable input and initiative and that we have made progress in many policy areas where we: formalized the process of evaluating the superintendent; created a better process for charter initiatives; evaluated our expulsion process to be consistent across the district; widened the scope of measures that determine the success of students in the district; and, expanded the involvement of community members in our deliberations regarding mathematics, four-year-old kindergarten, school nutrition/lunches and technology in MMSD.
I’ll just note that I don’t consider not being satisfied “a personality flaw” and send her this Replacements song as a reminder.
I don’t believe Beth Moss has made a formal announcement, but she’s gathering signatures and went through the process to win the Progressive Dane endorsement for her re-election effort.
It isn’t too late for more candidates to enter; the filing deadline is January 5. 2010. Whatever my thoughts about all of those already declared, I think that contested races are good for democracy and democracy is good for the schools. All the filing information are here.
Thomas J. Mertz