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Monday, November 2, 2009

Madison Central Picks Farrell for Board Vacancy

The Madison Central School Board, operating tonight on the barest of quora, appointed retired Dakota State University educator Tom Farrell to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of retitred DSU educator Dennis Hegg. This decision leaves current DSU graduate teaching assistant Cory Heidelberger, the other applicant for the vacancy, a little freer to work on his dissertation.

Seriously, the Madison Central School Board made a good decision tonight. They couldn't not make a good decision. They had two applicants, both long-time Madison residents, both enthusiastic educators, both pretty good communicators... just the kind of people it's good to have in public office. Congratulations, Tom!

I told my speech students this afternoon that when you apply for a job, you go in with the attitude that you are the best person for the job, that you can out-interview anyone else who walks into that room. You never entertain the notion that you won't get the job.

I admit, when I read that Tom Farrell was the other applicant the board would be interviewing tonight, I entertained the notion that I wouldn't get the job. Even before my friend Michael Black called last night and said, "I think they'll pick Tom" (thanks, again, Mike, for the encouragement ;-) ), I had calculated that I might be at a bit of a disadvantage, that I might at least want to prepare myself for the possibility of coming in... well, not first. And as I contemplated that possibility, I thought, "If they don't pick me, I'll probably be disappointed for all of thirty seconds."

I was wrong. It was more like two seconds.

As Paul Weist made the motion to appoint Tom Farrell, as I did the same gut check I see interpers and debaters do when we line them all up on stage and hand out the runners-up trophies, to make sure I didn't slip and scowl or cross my eyes, I didn't find myself having to force a smile. My interview with Paul, Steve Nelson, Jay Niedert, and Mark Hawkes (no Michelle Tucek, no Tammy Jo Zingmark) was an enjoyable and challenging conversation about school policy, architecture, and community. While Tom and I waited during the board's executive session deliberation, we had a good conversation about methodology and DSU's graduate program.

And when the board cast their vote for Tom, I saw beside me a newly minted school board member, smart and passionate about education and ready to make some hard decisions for the good of our kids, our teachers, and our community. How could I be disappointed to lose to a well-liked, well-educated, well-spoken opponent—and that word doesn't even sound right tonight... competitor? neighbor?

Tom Farrell will do a good job on the board. And who knows? Maybe I can even convince him to start a school board blog (two years now... I'll keep trying!).


  1. Congratulations are still in order.

  2. From what I am reading... If you want to spend time on a board and the School Board seems to be a logical extension for yourself, I wonder if City Council or State Legislature wouldn't be more suitable to address the causes and concerns that you state here.

    Sometimes I just don't get it. Since we are one of the least populated states, one would think that we would be leaders in some issues as there are less people to convince.

  3. Thanks, both of you!

    Ms. Schave, alas, since I live outside of town, city commission is out. Indeed, I am interested in all sorts of issues that are the purview of different levels of government. But I applied for the school board position because local ed is as interesting and important as anything else.


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