NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Jerry Mercado, one-third of the Students First ticket, has announced he is withdrawing his candidacy for election for the Board of Education.

Mercado provided TAPinto New Brunswick with a press release announcing he is not running for the school board.

The release does not state why he is withdrawing his candidacy for the April 21 election. He also did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

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Mercado, 50, announced his candidacy on the steps of the Lincoln Annex School on Somerset Street on Feb. 11.

He, Linda "Lindy" Stork and Reginald "Reggie" Parker formed the Students First ticket that was running against incumbents Dale Caldwell, Emra Seawood and Patricia Varela.

The fate of Lincoln Annex had been a hot-button issue during the campaign.

The city, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and DEVCO have rolled out a plan to raze the school and build a 12-story, world-class cancer hospital in its place. Two sites on Jersey Avenue have been identified as sites for a replacement school. While the school is being built, students would attend the Pathways Campus on Van Dyke Avenue.

Mercado, Stork and Parker said they are not in favor of moving students out of Lincoln Annex, even though the plan is for RWJ to pick up the $55 million tab on the replacement school. And if the plan is already in motion, having a replacement school built before students are moved from their current school is the “minimum prerequisite,” Parker said.

Mercado's press release hinted that a new candidate would take his place on the ticket when it mentioned that "a new leader has emerged that does not support what is being done to the Lincoln Annex." The letter doesn't identify the person.

According to the press release, "Our community needs board members who advocates for our students, who provide clear transparency in board duties, and who defend the public’s right to express themselves during public comment. I am confident that Linda Stork and Reggie Parker will be those board members and it is my hope the new leader will also embrace these qualities. I thank my family and my supporters for allowing me the many opportunities to serve our New Brunswick Community. I will continue to make New Brunswick better than when I moved here and it will certainly not be the last time you will see my name on the ballot."