UPDATE: School board candidate Manski drops out of race - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: School board candidate Manski drops out of race

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MADISON (WKOW)-- A surprising new development in a highly contested Madison school board race. Front-runner Sarah Manski announced Thursday that she is dropping out of the race.

The announcement comes merely two days after she won the primary Tuesday night. The primary featured three candidates vying for the opening on the school board. It was the first Madison school board primary in six years.

After receiving nearly $2,700 in donations as well as dozens of high end endorsements from state lawmakers, Madison mayor Paul Soglin, and Congressman Mark Pocan, it appeared that Manski had a commanding lead in the race.

Many were shocked to hear that she had decided to drop out, but none were more surprised than her opponent T.J. Mertz.

"My first reaction was just kind of shock and actually just disbelief," Mertz says. "When I first heard about it I asked the person who told me if they were joking with me."

Both Mertz and Manski's names will still appear on the ballot in April, but Manski announced Thursday that if she does win she would not accept the position on the school board.

She released a statement stating that her husband was accepted into a PhD program in sociology in California. They plan to move sometime in the Fall. Manski says the move would come just a few months after her possible election. That's why she decided to drop out.

Mertz was happy with the news, but says he still plans to campaign.

"The pressure is a little less. Certainly we won't have to raise the kind of money we would have had to raise, but I'm still looking forward to doing the campaigning," Mertz says.

Manski says her and her husband both wanted to stay in the Madison area. They were hoping to gain acceptance into a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin or another nearby college, but things didn't work out.

The third candidate in the race, Ananda Mirilli, says she is debating if she's going to organize a write-in campaign. Mirilli was eliminated from the school board race after Tuesday night's primary.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- District 5 School Board candidate Sarah Grace Manski announced Thursday she has dropped out of the race, two days after she won the primary election for the seat to move on to the general election.

This leaves T.J. Mertz as the only candidate left campaigning for the District 5 School Board seat.

Stay tuned to 27 News for the latest on this developing story.

The full statement from Manski sent to the WKOW Channel 27 newsroom is below:   

With sincere thanks to my friends, supporters, and neighbors who voted on Tuesday, and deep gratitude to the many education, community, labor, and business leaders who have supported me, I regret to say that due to family and career needs, I sadly withdraw from the race for the Madison school board. Because I value honesty and transparency I am letting the public know about this development now. My name will remain on the ballot but I will not campaign in the coming weeks.
 
I have just learned that my husband had been admitted to sociology PhD programs in California, but not in Wisconsin or other nearby schools. This is obviously a very positive step in his career development and important to us. It also means I will be unable to serve my full term if elected, and for this reason I am withdrawing from the race.

I entered this race on December 19th, 2012 at the request of teachers, school board members, and community leaders. As the race has progressed I've had the opportunity to meet with many amazing faculty and staff members in the Madison schools as well as community leaders who are making a difference. I looked forward with enthusiasm to the possibility of working with them as a member of the school board and am sad that I won't have that opportunity to serve our community's children and parents.

It is clear now if it weren't already that TJ Mertz is as he says, "passionate about education." And he can be counted on to push back against the corporate takeover of our schools. While TJ and I take different approaches toward our goals, I know that he will work tirelessly to look out for Madison area students. I also got to know Ananda Mirilli in the course of this campaign as well, and I agree with her supporters that she is doing important work in the Madison community. This said, protecting public education is not the job of one person, or even a single board of education. It is up to everyone in our communities to continue to promote democracy, not austerity for our children and future generations of Wisconsinites.
I had planned in the coming weeks to lay out new proposals for the Madison schools, including 
setting hard benchmarks for the recruitment and retention of teachers and staff of color, as well 
as a city-school partnership to alleviate the impacts of childhood poverty on children's 
achievement in our schools.  In my remaining time here, I will remain active in the Wisconsin 
Wave and the broader movement. I first moved to Madison in 1997 and met my future husband
here in 1996. This our hometown, and while we are both looking forward to new and fortunate 
opportunities, we will miss Wisconsin.
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