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James Howard was first elected to the Madison School Board in 2010.  

James Howard, the Madison School Board's vice president, is not running for re-election this spring. 

Howard said serving on the School Board for nine years and having the last of his three children graduate from the Madison Metropolitan School District this past year factored into his decision.

"I am forever grateful to the Madison voters for allowing me the opportunity to serve this community for the last nine years," Howard said in an email.

The Seat 4 race has two candidates currently vying to take Howard's place. Ali Muldrow, the co-executive director of GSAFE Wisconsin, is running against David Blaska, a former Dane County Supervisor and conservative blogger. 

Howard said he would endorse Muldrow for Seat 4. He attended Muldrow's campaign announcement last week. 

Howard described Muldrow as "perfectly suited to replace me," which also factored into his decision not to run for another term.

The three-term School Board member said he is most proud of helping further MMSD's work on diversity and inclusion. Howard said he wished the School Board could have approved several more major initiatives that he said would have helped students of color. 

Howard, the only black man on the School Board, is currently its longest serving member. He was first elected to Seat 4 in 2010 after defeating Tom Farley by nearly a two-to-one margin. Howard captured 76 percent of the vote when he was re-elected in 2013. He ran unopposed in 2016.

Howard, an economist for the USDA Forest Service, was widely expected to not run for re-election this spring. He said during his 2016 campaign that his next term would be his last. 

Still, even as recently as earlier this month when several challengers announced School Board runs, Howard told the Cap Times he was still deciding if he would run again. 

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Howard's declaration of non-candidacy statement was filed with the city clerk's office on Wednesday. The deadline for incumbents to announce whether they are running for re-election is Friday. 

Howard's departure from the School Board guarantees the seven-person group will have two new members after the April election. Dean Loumos, Seat 3, announced earlier this month that he would step away from the School Board. School Board member TJ Mertz, the third incumbent this cycle, announced last week he would seek another term.

All three of the current incumbents ran unopposed in 2016. A total of six candidates are running for the three seats so far. 

The deadline for candidates to file to run for a seat on the School Board is Jan. 2, 2019.


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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.