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Ananda Mirilli, right, and Ali Muldrow speak to the crowd during the Madison School Board election watch party at Robinia Courtyard in Madison on Tuesday.

Tuesday's primary election for Madison School Board narrows the field for Seats 3, 4 and 5 to two candidates. Here's the latest on who will advance to the April 2 general election.

Seat 4: Ali Muldrow, David Blaska advance in crowded primary

In the School Board's most crowded race, GSAFE co-executive director Ali Muldrow and former Dane County Board member David Blaska will move on to the April general election. 

Muldrow captured 18,962 votes, which amounted to 55.7 percent of the vote. Blaska finished with about 23 percent of the vote with 7,851 votes. 

Local restaurant owner Laila Borokhim finished with 15.6 percent of the vote, while semi-retired physician Albert Bryan finished with 5.2 percent of the vote.

Muldrow received more votes than any other candidate for School Board on Tuesday.

"You don't run for School Board because you want to win an election," Muldrow said. "You run for School Board because you want to change education, and this means that we've got a chance at doing that. I think that means that our community for the first time in a long time is ready to be really honest about who we are and what we need to change in order to defend the rights of every child to learn."

Blaska said he will stick to his main message during the general election, focusing on school safety and school discipline.

"Right now I'm the only one saying what I'm saying ... we're not getting that from almost anyone right now in Madison, at almost any level of government," Blaska said. "I think I offer an alternative."

Blaska has frequently pushed for MMSD to renew its contract to keep police officers at the city's four main high schools, and has often gone toe-to-toe with the social justice group Freedom Inc. on the issue at School Board meetings. 

"I think there is some proof (in the election results) that this campaign is real," Blaska said at his election night watch party at Kavanaugh's Esquire Club. "(Muldrow) is cops out of school; it's that simple. I think she stands for disorder."

Muldrow, who was the first to announce her candidacy for Seat 4 in December 2018, said she was surprised at the amount of candidates running for the seat.

"I'm running for School Board. I'm not running against anybody," Muldrow said, adding "I've worked in education for 12 years ... When someone says, 'I want to combat the achievement gap' one of the first things you should say is how have you done this outside of the School Board, and none of these people can speak to that."

Borokhim said she was thankful for everyone who voted for her in the primary. 

"I'm very thankful to those that showed up to vote for me," Borokhim said in a statement. "I wish Ali the best and hope she follows through with all of her campaign promises."

Seat 5: Incumbent TJ Mertz, Ananda Mirilli advance to general election

Department of Public Instruction equity consultant Ananda Mirilli and incumbent School Board member TJ Mertz will advance to the general election in April. Mirilli, who has run a joint campaign with Muldrow, finished with 16,701 votes, capturing 52.1 percent of the vote.  Mertz finished with 11,722 votes, which was 36.5 percent of votes cast.

"It means that Madison wants change," said Mirilli, who ran in 2013 for the same seat but did not make it past the primary. "Madison does not want to continue to be this place that is not a good place for brown and black children. It means that Madison is ready for racial equity."

Mirilli and Muldrow held a combined election night watch party on Tuesday night at the Robina Courtyard. 

Mertz noted that there's still the general election on April 2. 

"There's an election in April," Mertz said. "It's a little disappointing, the results. But (April) is a different electorate where we get twice as many voters, so we'll see. We'll keep working."

Amos Roe, a professional pianist who ran a campaign on a promise to bolster school choice, finished with about 11 percent of the vote. 

"Unfortunately, too many children in Madison will have to suffer even more before we come to our senses regarding our schools," Roe said in a statement. "This is particularly true for disadvantaged kids, whose lack of true educational alternatives will impact everyone in Madison, whatever their race or economic status."

Roe said he would be supported Blaska and Seat 3 candidate Kaleem Caire in April.

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"I anticipate more empty rhetoric and more doomed-to-fail five year programs from MMSD well into the future, especially if Superintendent Cheatham remains in charge," Roe said. 

Seat 3: Kaleem Caire, Cris Carusi advance as expected

One City Schools founder Kaleem Caire and public education advocate Cris Carusi will face off in April, as expected. The two were the only candidates running for Seat 3, which is currently held by Dean Loumos. Skylar Croy, a third-year University of Wisconsin Law School student, had his name on the ballot but withdrew shortly after ballots were printed last month. Still, more than 2,700 votes were cast for Croy, whose name was the first one listed on the ballot. 

Carusi, who is a research director at UW-Madison, finished a close race with more than 15,993 votes, or 49 percent of the vote.

"We've been working really hard canvassing and knocking on doors and it paid off," Carusi said after the election. "We've built a lot of good momentum. We're going to continue to use our grassroots approach to go out and talk to voters about public education and build on it. We still got a lot of work to do."

Carusi added that it is "a real honor" to run in an election against Caire. 

Caire, whose One City Schools was approved last week to expand from 4K and 5K to elementary school, received 14,239 votes, which represents 43.6 percent of the vote. 

"It's encouraging. We looked at the data and knew it's not going to be a cakewalk. The fact that we got 44 percent of the vote is critical but we are going to look at where those votes came from. We got a lot of work to do, and I got to work harder. I'm looking forward to it."

Caire added the election is going to be about "how long we are going to allow current challenges we have to exist."



Education Reporter

Negassi Tesfamichael is the local education reporter at The Cap Times. He joined the paper in 2018. He previously worked as an intern at WISC-TV/ and at POLITICO.