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Sunday, March 1, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Overcast with Haze
The Paper
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Cake and more at election night parties for the Madison school board

Okay, I'll admit it. I like cake. But that wasn't the reason I went to Maya Cole's election party at Brocach on the Capitol Square last night.

It was an intimate affair. Just 25 or so revelers were in the small bar upstairs -- a group so small that I inadvertently made a splashy entrance just by walking through the door. All eyes lit on me, including those of Cole, who stood with a group of supporters in the middle of the room. When I arrived, at about 9:30, she was still waiting for the result of her race with Marjorie Passman for the school board. Cole ended up winning the election.

I should have introduced myself to her right away. I was there to report on the candidacy, after all, so why not start by talking to the candidate? But I was feeling shy and wanted to get the lay of the land, so I did what anyone does who comes alone to a party of strangers. I went to the buffet. Where there was cake. Chocolate cake.

Then I approached Cole, and explained I was a writer with Isthmus. "Oh!" she said, looking relieved. "We thought you had come for the cake." In the past, she said, there had been problems with gatecrashing.

The Cole fiesta was subdued compared to, say, what apparently was the riotous good time Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and his team had at the High Noon Saloon. There weren't even any televisions, which meant that no one stood, slack-jawed, and watched the returns flash beneath an episode of CSI: Miami. Instead a group of intense-looking people huddled around a laptop computer -- behind the buffet with the cake -- and shouted out results as they came in.

"I don't need to look at the returns," said Cole.

She seemed relaxed as she talked about her day, which she said she spent chasing her kids, it being spring break and all. ("Thanks for that, school board," she quipped.)

Just then a supporter excitedly told her, "You won in Shorewood Hills!"


Moments earlier I had been at Fyfe's Corner Bistro for the joint campaign party of Passman and Beth Moss, who resoundingly defeated Rick Thomas in her school board race. The scene was far more boisterous at Fyfe's. Passman and Moss animatedly mingled among 75 or so friends, and a laptop projected election returns onto a giant screen in the corner.

Moss said she had spent her day passing out flyers downtown, and lunching with her mother. As for Passman, she went shopping.

In case you are wondering, I did indeed check out the buffet at the Moss-Passman hoedown. There was Bundt cake, Hershey kisses, limp slices of cheese and some very aromatic chicken wings.

Passman's race with Cole was a nail biter, and she watched the returns on the big screen closely. "Don't go so fast!" she told the guy with the computer at one point. "I'm trying to read this!"

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