Dean Loumos, who has served on Seat 3 of the Madison School Board since 2013, announced Monday that he would not run for re-election this spring.
Loumos had filed a declaration of candidacy last week, but the retiring executive director of Housing Initiatives said recovering from a non-life-threatening health issue would make it difficult to run a campaign that has two other people already running.
“I cannot in full faith begin a campaign that now requires a primary that is in February, where I may not be available for the many forums that will be held or participate in a full campaign,” Loumos said in a statement. “Although I feel confident that I could prevail in this race, the medicine I am on exhausts me.”
Loumos said in an interview with the Cap Times that after meeting with his physician last week, he is looking at having surgery.
“They’re not even going to let me drive for a month,” Loumos said. “It’s just not fair (to constituents) to not get out there and do all the things I need to for a campaign.”
Loumos stepping out of the race winnows the field of candidates for Seat 3 to two candidates. Cris Carusi, a district parent and former School Board candidate, announced her candidacy at the beginning of the month. David Blaska, the conservative former Dane County Supervisor, announced his candidacy for Seat 3 late last week.
Blaska said in a blog post Monday evening that he would run for Seat 4 instead of Seat 3 because Kaleem Caire, the founder of One City Schools, was going to run for Seat 3.
Caire did not immediately respond to a request for comment on running for the Madison School Board.
Loumos said he viewed himself as a strong candidate despite the two challengers.
“I’m an experienced campaigner. Plus, I know what I’m doing on the board,” Loumos said. “In my opinion I’m a strong candidate. I’ve always viewed it as I’m not running against anybody — I’m running for School Board. And I’d tell people what I want to do and what I’ve done.”
Loumos was first elected in 2013 after defeating retired Madison Police Lt. Wayne Strong by 0.76 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2016.
Two other seats are also up for election this cycle — Seat 4, held by James Howard, and Seat 5, held by TJ Mertz.
Howard has not decided yet if he will run for re-election, but said he would make a decision this week. GSAFE co-executive director Ali Muldrow is running for Seat 4.
Mertz has not filed any paperwork yet to run for re-election. Ananda Mirilli announced last week that she would run for Mertz’s seat.
The deadline for incumbents to file paperwork saying they aren’t running for re-election is Dec. 21. The deadline to file to run for a seat on the School Board is Jan. 2, 2019.
Loumos said he would endorse a candidate for his seat after the January filing deadline. He previously had high remarks for Carusi, saying she would be a good candidate for the School Board.
He said he would work to support whichever candidate he endorses when he’s available.
Loumos announced last month that he is retiring after spending 24 years at Housing Initiatives, a nonprofit that works to provide affordable housing to homeless and low-income residents. He said celebrating his retirement and the group’s 25th anniversary last month made him reflect on personal interests that he’d like to pursue — including learning how to play the piano and speak better Spanish.
Loumos hopes to use his experience of providing affordable housing in his last few months on the School Board. He said he wants the Madison School District to look at finding ways to provide affordable housing on some of its land.
“Madison is on the verge of following the paths of many successful cities and pricing even entry-level professionals out of housing,” Loumos said in his statement. “Without permanent stable housing for our families and staff, our students, who suffer the most from housing instability, will never achieve and good new hires will leave to go elsewhere.”
Loumos said other cities have successfully found ways to provide affordable housing through their school districts, and that he’d be open to helping work with the district if they decide to move forward on his proposal.
He also said he wants to work on increasing availability and access to the arts at all of Madison’s schools at every grade level. He described wanting to add an “A” for arts to the common acronym “STEM.”
Loumos said because of these proposals that he’d like to work on, he will serve on the School Board until his term is completed in April.
“I’m not done yet,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of stuff to do in the meantime.”