"Half isn't enough," John Matthews, the head of Madison Teachers Inc., was saying shortly after Marj Passman conceded her school board loss to Maya Cole and Beth Moss claimed victory Tuesday night at Fyfe's.
Matthews, whose union played a key role in both candidates' races, says Passman's victory was needed to provide a greater push for the Legislature to increase school funding.
Matthews attributed Cole's win to the fact she was considered a de facto incumbent in wake of her hair-thin loss in last April's election.
Asked if newspaper coverage and endorsements played a role in the outcomes, the veteran union leader winced and said The Capital Times "was very short-sighted" in endorsing Cole. "I think they'll be very disappointed with her."
Matthews said Cole's progressive credentials were in doubt because of the financial support she received in her last campaign from prominent local conservatives and businessmen. "When we interviewed her, she couldn't explain why they contributed to her campaign," he said.
Matthews wasn't the only person unhappy with the media. When former school board member Bill Keys spotted an Isthmus reporter among the hundred or so people present, he bellowed, "What are you doing here?"
Passman, who like Keys is a retired teacher, rapped Madison's TV stations for failing to interview the school board candidates, except for Channel 3. She also claimed that the city's newspapers failed to to cover the many candidate forums.
But Passman's concession was largely upbeat and filled with praise for MTI, Keys and Progressive Dane for endorsing her. She urged her supporters to continue pressuring the legislature increase school funding.
"I wouldn't have missed this for anything," Passman said of the campaign.
Beth Moss, whose convincing win over Rick Thomas suggests she'll come to the board with a substantial constituency, was more awkward and less polished than Passman in her acceptance speech.
She singled out school board members Carol Carstensen and Arlene Silveira for urging her to run. She also thanked MTI and Progressive Dane for their work on her behalf. "I pledge to listen to you," she told an appreciative crowd.
But Moss, who was a leader in last year's successful school referendum, admitted that not everybody in her family was pulling for her Tuesday. Talking about the travails of being a candidate, she said after one family blow-up, her 13-year-old-daughter blurted out, "I just hope you lose!"
And that drew a round of laughs from the parents in the room who knew what brats teenagers can be.