TRAVERSE CITY — A local school district administrator left his post to pursue a seat in Michigan's House of Representatives.
Tom Stobie retired as superintendent of Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools at the end of December. Now he's preparing to run as a Democratic candidate for the 101st District's seat in the state House of Representatives.
"I’d thought about it for a while," Stobie said of his decision to retire and run for the legislature. "I've been in the position for nine-plus years and it was just time."
Stobie started his career as a teacher and coach at Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools in 1974. He moved to Jackson Public Schools after five years and eventually retired from that district as a deputy superintendent.
Stobie returned to the Frankfort-Elberta area after his retirement. He then accepted a job as the Frankfort-Elberta district's interim superintendent in 2004. It was supposed to be a one-year gig, but Stobie said school board members asked him to stay on after his first 12 months.
Stobie pointed to two successful capital millage campaigns and the district's relative fiscal health -- including a balanced budget and a fund balance of 15 percent -- as his most prized accomplishments during his 9 years as Frankfort-Elberta's top administrator.
"I’m proud of the way all of us, and it’s not just me, kept the district afloat during the last five years since this downturn," Stobie said.
Sam Barresi is serving as the interim superintendent of Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools in the wake of Stobie's departure. Barresi is a seasonal resident of Frankfort who retired as an associate superintendent from Metro Detroit's Wayne-Westland Community Schools.
Barresi said he'll serve as interim superintendent at least until the end of the school year.
"The (school) board is still in the process of making a decision as to what they’ll be doing long-term," Barresi said.
Stobie has never held an elected office. He ran for a school board seat while living in Jackson County but was defeated.
No other Democrats have announced intentions to run in the primary election slated for August, Stobie said. Stobie likely will face incumbent Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, in the general election if that holds true.
Franz was first elected to represent the 101st District, which, includes Benzie, Leelanau, Mason and Manistee counties, in 2010. Franz won reelection in 2012 when he defeated Demcorat Allen O'Shea, by a margin of 1,030 votes.
Franz could not be reached for comment.