Wisconsin’s Spring Primary will take place today, Feb. 16, to narrow the field of candidates for the next state superintendent.
The spring primary is always held on the third Tuesday of February to nominate non-partisan candidates for the Spring Election, according to the Madison City Clerk’s Office website.
Wisconsinites will vote on the next superintendent of public instruction after incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor announced she will not run for re-election. Seven candidates filed to run for the nonpartisan seat — Sheila Briggs, Troy Gunderson, Joe Fenrick, Shandowlyn Hendricks-Williams, Deborah Kerr, Steve Krull and Jill Underly, according to Ballotpedia.
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The candidates’ platforms vary on a variety of issues, including school funding, specifically charter schools and school vouchers in public education policy.
Former vice superintendent at Wayzata High School in Minnesota Jane Sigford said both of these issues pull money from public schools.
“This would affect kids and families in K-12 because charter schools pull kids away from certain public schools so it affects the funding and vouchers would pull money away from public schools in general,” Sigford said.
The State Superintendent sits on the UW Board of Regents — an 18-member group responsible for establishing policies for the UW System, planning to meet future state needs for a collegiate education, setting admission standards, reviewing university budgets and forming a regulatory framework for individual units.
According to the Board of Regents website, 16 of the 18 members are appointed by the governor. Vice President of the UW Young Progressives Jack Connors said the election for State Superintendent is the only chance for voters to elect board members.
“The Board of Regents plays a huge role in governing all the universities in the UW System, including UW Madison,” Connors said. “This is the only chance Wisconsinites get to directly elect someone to serve on this board.”
Madison saw a record 161,836 votes in the most recent general election. UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said turnout in primary elections is typically lower than in general elections, both on and off-campus.
Connors, however, said he hopes for a higher turnout this year.
“Based on what we saw in November, I’m optimistic that young people will turn out in higher numbers than they have historically both today and in April,” Connors said. “The State Superintendent has the opportunity to advance important values like racial equity and help uplift public schools.”
All polls are open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. and more information about what is on your ballot can be found at the My Vote website.