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I'm keeping a running tally of Madison School Board election news. If you're running or know someone who's thinking about it, drop me a line.

Dec. 28: With less than a week to go before the filing deadline, a Madison School Board candidate has withdrawn from what was shaping up to be a crowded primary.

Adam Kassulke, who was the first to announce plans to run for the seat being vacated by Maya Cole,  said he will endorse T.J. Mertz in the election.

A primary for the seat on Feb. 19 is still likely as Sarah Manski and Ananda Mirilli also have filed to run. Nomination papers are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday.


Dec. 21: Four candidates have now declared interest in the Maya Cole seat, setting up the potential for the first four-way primary for Madison School Board since 1997.

T.J. Mertz, who teaches history at Edgewood College and blogs about local education issues, announced Friday he plans to run for Cole's seat. Already declared for that seat are Adam Kassulke, Sarah Manski and Ananda Mirilli.

Mertz was one of the more active opponents of a recent Urban League-proposed charter school. In his announcement he highlighted his opposition to the privatization of public schools and expansion of standardized testing and support for more resources for public schools.

The last time four candidates vied for a Madison School Board seat was in 1997 when Ruth Robarts emerged from a contest for an open seat that also included Jeffrey Fluckiger, Andrea Houlihan and Kevin Miller.


Dec. 20: A third candidate has filed to run for the Madison School Board seat being vacated by Maya Cole.

Sarah Manski, 34, a local business owner and political activist, said she is running to defend public schools against the influence of organizations seeking to privatize education. She is a former Madison College sociology teacher and member of the Teaching Assistants' Association.

Manski is the wife of Ben Manski, who was the campaign manager for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein (and, due to a fluke in the electoral process, also appeared on ballots as Stein's running mate, even though he wasn't the official vice presidential nominee for the party). Ben also ran as a Green Party candidate for State Assembly in 2010, but lost to Brett Hulsey.

Also signed up to run for the seat are Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee teacher whose daughter attends Shabazz High School, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice coordinator with YWCA Madison and a Nuestro Mundo parent.

If all three submit their nomination petitions by Jan. 2, a primary would be held on Feb. 19.


Dec. 17: Madison School Board president James Howard has drawn an opponent setting up the likelihood of three races for the spring election.

Greg Packnett, a Democratic legislative aide, has filed paperwork to run for Howard's seat. Howard has yet to file, but tells me he plans to do so by the Jan. 2 deadline.

Dean Loumos, executive director of low-income housing provider Housing Initiatives, and Wayne Strong, a retiring Madison police lieutenant, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Beth Moss.

Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee teacher whose daughter attends Shabazz High School, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice coordinator with YWCA Madison and a Nuestro Mundo parent, have filed to run for the seat being vacated by Maya Cole.

One other update: State Rep. Kelda Roys and disability rights attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, who previously said they were thinking about running, have decided not to run.


Nov. 30: Madison School Board member Maya Cole is not running for re-election, setting up two open seats for next spring's election.

Cole made the decision this week after going back and forth about the decision over the past year.

"It’s really hard when you’ve done something for six years and you feel like you’ve got a really good handle on it," Cole said.

Cole and Beth Moss are both stepping down after two terms. School Board President James Howard is running for a second term.

Nomination petitions can be circulated starting Saturday.


Nov. 29: Another candidate announced plans Thursday to run for an open Madison School Board seat, opening up the possibility of the district's first primary since 2007.

Wayne Strong, 53, a Madison Police East District lieutenant who is retiring in January, said he is "99 percent" certain he'll file a declaration of candidacy Friday to run, most likely for the seat being vacated by Beth Moss.

Two others, Dean Loumos and Ananda Mirilli, also have said they plan to run for the seat that Moss won in 2007 after facing Rick Thomas and Pam Cross-Leone in a primary.

Strong, a Racine native whose two children graduated from La Follette High School, said he's concerned about the high suspension and low graduation rates of students of color and as a School Board member would work to reverse that trend.


Nov. 28: If Maya Cole decides to run for a third term, she may have an opponent.

Adam Kassulke, a former Milwaukee schools teacher and administrator whose daughter attends Shabazz High School, has filed a declaration of candidacy with the Madison City Clerk's office to run for Cole's seat.

Kassulke could have run for an open seat being vacated by Beth Moss, but he said he's disappointed with Cole's performance and wants more aggressive leadership from the board to address the achievement gap. He describes himself as a liberal who opposes Act 10, but believes union dues should be voluntary.

Kassulke, 40, who owns a private investigation company, said the district should break the high schools down into smaller schools where students would have the same teachers for four years and focus on service learning and apprenticeships. He also supports exploring alternative funding sources for public education, such as a sales tax.

Cole, who told me at Monday night's board meeting that she was still undecided about running, didn't immediately return a call Wednesday for a response.

Candidates can begin circulating nomination petitions Saturday. They must collect 100 signatures by Jan. 2.


Nov. 20: The upcoming Madison School Board election is drawing plenty of interest from potential candidates, including at least two who say they definitely will run for an open seat.

Dean Loumos, executive director of low-income housing provider Housing Initiatives, and Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice program coordinator at YWCA Madison, both told me they plan to run no matter who else jumps in the race.

Several others, including state Rep. Kelda Roys, Edgewood College history professor T.J. Mertz, Democratic legislative aide Greg Packnett and attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick all told me they are considering a run.

Interest in the School Board election has grown since Beth Moss announced she would not seek a third term. Some are waiting until Maya Cole makes a decision about a third term before committing one way or the other.

First-term incumbent James Howard has said he plans to run, but so far has not drawn an opponent.

Loumos, 62, a former teacher at LaFollette High School and the Tellurian rehab center, said he wants to close the district's achievement gap by restoring many of the alternative programs that have been cut over the years. He's opposed to private sector intervention in public schools, especially charter schools that aren't run by school districts.

Mirilli, 35, a parent of a Nuestro Mundo student, said her training in conflict resolution would help bring together the district, the teachers union and the community to solve problems like the achievement gap. She said she also brings the perspective of a single mother who immigrated 13 years ago from Brazil to Madison's South Side.

Roys is leaving the Legislature in January after losing to Mark Pocan in the Democratic primary for the congressional seat vacated by Tammy Baldwin. Mertz is a liberal education blogger and school funding advocate. Packnett is on the executive board for Dane Democrats. Spitzer-Resnick was until recently a special education advocate with Disability Rights Wisconsin.

I've contacted a few others rumored to be mulling a run, but no response yet. I'll continue to update this post as the field takes shape.

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.