Sarah Manski.jpg

The top vote-getter in Tuesday's Madison School Board primary said Friday she ran for the seat knowing she might not be able to serve out her term because her husband was applying for graduate school in other states.

Sarah Manski, who dropped out of the race Thursday, said she mentioned those concerns to School Board member Marj Passman, who Manski said encouraged her to run. Passman told her it wouldn't be a problem if she had to resign her seat because the board would "appoint somebody good," Manski said.

Passman vigorously denied encouraging Manski to run or ever knowing about her husband's graduate school applications. After learning about Manski's statement from the State Journal, Passman sent an email to other School Board members saying "I had no such conversation with her."

"It's sad to believe that this kind of a person came close to being elected to one of the most important offices in our city," Passman wrote in the email, which she also forwarded to the State Journal.

Manski said in response "it's possible (Passman) didn't remember or it's possible it's politically inconvenient for her to remember."

Manski will still appear on the April 2 ballot along with Edgewood College history instructor and education blogger T.J. Mertz, according to the Government Accountability Board.

Ananda Mirilli, a former board member at Nuestro Mundo charter school who placed third in the primary, will not be on the ballot. She said she planned to make a decision Sunday about whether to conduct a write-in campaign.

Manski said she didn't plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

Manski also was endorsed by several local politicians including Mayor Paul Soglin, Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell and Congressman Mark Pocan. She had raised about $1,100 from donors, according to a pre-primary campaign finance report filed with the Madison City Clerk's Office.

Passman said she endorsed Manski because Mertz had not entered the race yet and she "wanted someone who would be for progressive causes." She said she would likely endorse Mertz, but would let him know first.

Manski said she did not drop out of the race because of anything related to the election itself. Rather, she and her husband made a decision to move to California based on multiple factors, including the difficult economy in Madison and a desire to start a family. The couple rent out a condo, which is valued at less than what they owe on it, and live in a rented house, she said.

Manski said her husband, prominent national Green Party activist Ben Manski, had been accepted for a graduate program at the University of California at Santa Barbara and was still waiting to hear back from UC-Berkeley.

Ben Manski said Friday he applied to three graduate schools within driving distance of Madison, including UW-Madison.

"I really hoped and expected to stay in the region, particularly Madison," Ben Manski said Friday night by text message while traveling. "I learned this week that this was not an option. Sarah took 24 hours to speak with supporters and family, then made the announcement."

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