---- — In a crowded and talented field of candidates for two seats on the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education, two stand out — Erik Falconer and Mary Marois.
The 38-year-old Falconer, president of the Falconer Group, a Traverse City-based financial advisory firm, said he thinks he can help "complete" the present board by bringing his financial expertise, a sense of entrepreneurship and his experience as a business owner. He said the district can't "keep putting off the day of reckoning."
The district's finances are "not an encouraging picture," he said and the state's economy may get worse before it gets better.
He said he wants the district to do better at building a feeling of community, in part by creating "niche" groups of students with similar interests around subject areas that could grow into "magnet" type programs.
He and his wife also own Mother Goose Time, which produces preschool curriculum "for use in preschools, home day cares and childcare centers," according to its web site.
Falconer should bring a new perspective to an already diverse and able board.
The 64-year-old Marois was director of the Michigan Department of Human Services' Grand Traverse and Leelanau county offices until she retired in 2008.
Marois said she's excited about new Traverse City Superintendent Stephen Cousins. "He wants to save the world and I want to be on his bandwagon," she said.
She wants the district to create "an environment where charter (school) kids want to come back to Traverse City schools," and that includes holding the line on class sizes.
Marois says she thinks the board is not as open as it could be and, like Falconer, would like to see committee meetings, where much work is done, televised.
Her lifelong ties to Traverse City and government experience should be an asset to the district.