- Karen Lembcke: 332 (56.7%)
- Nick Abraham: 291 (49.7%)
- Myron Downs: 284 (48.5%)
- Mike McGowan: 184 (31.4%)
But seven votes: that's close! That slim margin may reflect the first victory of Web campaigning in local politics. Abraham has a Facebook page, and he used it to remind his friends to get out and vote. Some of his friends didn't even know there was an election ("commissioner of what?"). If even 2% of his 400-plus-person network checked Facebook, saw Nick's reminder, and said, "Oh, yeah! Election day! I better go vote for Nick," boom! That's your margin of victory.
To paraphrase an anonymous commenter: Why would a 30-year-old man have a Facebook page? To help win an election.
Perhaps surprisingly, the final order matches the final poll conducted here at the Madville Times (Hey, try often enough, you're bound to get at least one right!) I also note with some pleasure that at least one of my endorsees got a seat! A Madville Times endorsement isn't the kiss of death after all.
But the status quo did win, as Karen Lembcke was sent back for another term of cheering on the LAIC and its closed-door activities while Main Street declines and our unemployment rate goes more than double that of Brookings. How well will Abraham fit into this status quo? Will he be a strong, independent voice for his blue-collar constituency? Or will he be brought to heel by a commission stacked with Chamber of Commerce types?
Being an effective commissioner requires teamwork, an ability to communicate, and, when necessary, a willingness to go along to get along (please understand how much it galls me to say that last part). But the best commissioners also have the courage to question, criticize, and change the status quo. Madison needs leaders who can play both sides of that equation.
As I said at Rotary Monday, being a team player doesn't mean saying yes all the time. The best team players hold their team accountable.
As a test of Abraham's mettle: watch how he deals with the LAIC. Let's see if he'll call for conditioning LAIC funding on concrete and transparent performance measures, just like Pierre does. Oh, and let's see if he starts a blog!