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Madison School Board candidate Wayne Strong suspends campaign

Madison School Board candidate Wayne Strong suspends campaign

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Madison School Board candidate Wayne Strong no longer intends to challenge incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen for her seat, but his name will remain on the ballot.

Strong, 60, a retired Madison police lieutenant, told the city of Madison Clerk’s Office on Thursday he was suspending his campaign, according to a note on the Clerk’s Office webpage.

But because Strong filed all the necessary paperwork to run in the spring election by the deadline Tuesday, his name will still appear on the April 7 ballot.

It means Vander Meulen, a criminal defense attorney, will again be the only candidate actively campaigning for Seat 7 despite two names on the ballot for the position.

In 2017, Vander Meulen and incumbent Ed Hughes moved past a three-way primary, setting up a general election match. But Hughes dropped out of the race in March of that year, also not in time for his name to be pulled from the ballot.

Strong, who is a program associate for the National Council on Crime & Delinquency, was mounting a third bid to join the School Board. He lost a close race in 2013 and lost a contest the following year by a wider margin.

His decision means only one of the three School Board seats in the spring election will be contested.

Three candidates — Karen Ball, Christina Gomez Schmidt and Maia Pearson — will face off in a Feb. 18 primary for Seat 6, which is opening after Kate Toews’ decision not to seek reelection.

Under the board’s unusual elections systems, board members are elected at large and do not represent specific geographic areas of the school district, though candidates must choose to run for a specific seat.

The result is that while all seats come with the same duties, some candidates are virtually assured of winning, while others must compete.

A third seat — up for a special election to a one-year term on the board — has incumbent Savion Castro as the sole candidate.

Castro was appointed to Seat 2 this summer following the resignation of Mary Burke. The special election is required by state law to complete the last year of the three-year term Burke won in 2018.

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