GRAND HAVEN, MI – There are seven candidates running for four open seats on the Grand Haven Area Public Schools Board of Education this November.
The Grand Haven school board has two, six-year seats up for grabs, as well as two partial-term seats that voters will fill in the Nov. 8 general election.
There are five candidates who are running for the two full-term seats: Incumbents Nichol Stack and Carl Treutler, as well as challengers Tracey Nauta, Tommy Van Hill and Roger Williams.
Incumbent Marc Eickholt is running unopposed for the first partial-term seat, and Thomas Hoekstra II is running unopposed for the second partial-term seat. The two seats will be listed separately on the ballot, and both expire in four years.
Three candidates on the ballot are endorsed by Ottawa Impact, a Jenison-based conservative political action group: Tommy Van Hill, Roger Williams, and Thomas Hoekstra II. To earn Ottawa Impact’s endorsement, each candidate signed a contract promising to oppose Critical Race Theory and any controversial materials in Social and Emotional Learning, among other things.
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Here is some background information about all seven candidates running for the Grand Haven school board:
Tracey Nauta, 43, works in sales and customer service, according to her LinkedIn profile. She has three children attending Grand Haven schools and has lived in Grand Haven with her family for seven years.
Nichol Stack, 44, was elected to the school board in November 2014 and is seeking reelection. She works for a local pest control company.
Carl Treutler, 79, is an attorney at Van Tubergen, Treutler & Hayes Law Firm. He started working in law in 2002, and before that he worked for Grand Haven Public Schools as a high school mathematics teacher, and coach for football and track, according to his profile on the firm’s website. He has two sons and eight grandchildren.
Tommy Van Hill is an alumnus of Grand Haven schools and works for Transfer Tool Products, according to his website. He is one of the three candidates in the race endorsed by the conservative political action group Ottawa Impact.
Roger Williams lives in Grand Haven with his daughter, according to his website. He is originally from Georgia and served eight years in the Navy before moving to Michigan. After the Navy, he earned his bachelor’s degree in operations management and currently works as a production planner for manufacturing. He is one of the three candidates endorsed by the conservative political action group Ottawa Impact.
Marc Eickholt, 42, has three children attending Grand Haven schools. He is a consultant at Siemens Digital Industries Software, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was appointed to the Grand Haven school board in the fall of 2021. Before that, he led a team of software developers at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
Thomas Hoekstra II owns a construction company and has been serving the West Michigan area for the past 27 years, he told MLive in an emailed statement. He has held leadership positions with West Michigan Search and Rescue, volunteered in a leadership role with Tyrone Valley Youth Camp, and is the Director for His Helping Hands food pantry. He is one of the three candidates endorsed by the conservative political action group Ottawa Impact.
MLive/The Grand Rapids Press partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked to outline their stances on a variety of public policy issues listed below.
Information on other state, county and local primary races can be found at Vote411.org.
All responses in the voter guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary cut if a reply exceeded character limitations. Spelling and grammar were not corrected. Publication of candidate statements and opinions is solely in the interest of public service and should NOT be considered as an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes any candidates or political parties.
Here are responses from three of the seven candidates who will appear on the ballot in November:
What special skills, abilities and qualifications will you bring to this position?
Tracey Nauta: I have a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Science with a major in Speech Communication. However, not only am I educated in the art of communication, I dearly love it. I welcome discourse, and I enjoy listening to different viewpoints and perspectives. Much of my professional experience has been in Customer Service, so I also possess strong conflict resolutions skills. I understand that the ability to resolve issues between opposing parties is rooted in a willingness to compromise, the capacity to empathize and a strong desire to always maintain a certain level of respect. In addition to communication and customer service skills, I possess strong business management skills such as budgeting, researching, marketing, and reporting; acquired from years of working in Sales and Business Management. I am a team player and I value the unmistakable benefits of collaboration and teamwork. I also understand the responsibility one must assume when placed in a position of leadership. I will always work with integrity, and never lose sight of what it means to be trusted by the stakeholders of this community. I feel very passionately about education and every child’s right to have access to an excellent public education in an environment where they can thrive and reach their true potential. It is this passion coupled with the skills and experience previously mentioned that I will bring to the position of School Board Member for the Grand Haven Area Public Schools.
Carl Treutler: My background in GHAPS began in the Fall of 1965 when I became a HS teacher of mathematics. I taught there until 2000. During that time, I was also president of GHEA 7 times. I also coached football (30years) and track (35 years). I taught all levels of HS math, began the AP Calculus program along with computer education. I completed my master’s degree in Secondary School Administration in 1971 and began a PhD program at Michigan in Educational Leadership. Near the end of 2000, I graduated from Cooley Law School with a JD and practiced law for 15 years in Grand Haven. I fully retired from law in 2017. I was first elected to the GHAPS BOE in 2007 and re-elected until the present. I am the current BOE president serving my second year as such. In my past 15 years on the BOE, I have attended many MASB classes achieving Master Board Diamond certification.
Marc Eickholt: In any Board meeting we deal with topics from curriculum to infrastructure to finances and beyond. My experiences on the Board as well as my professional experiences allow me to bridge the space between topics to provide pragmatic leadership.A father of 3 GHAPS students who worked for the OAISD on projects from the local level to the state level, I have educational experience from the kitchen table to the Dept of Ed conference room table. I worked with admins and educators to help solve issues in nearly every area of education. This work was done collaboratively to fully understand the challenges. I was also responsible for my group budget. This gave insight into the challenges of operating under the confines of the annual publicly funded budget. I was part of the OA Secure Schools Network where we brought together districts and first responders to focus on school safety. This experience led to my recently passed motion for GHAPS to hire a Director of Safety & Security.
What are the top issues facing this school district and how will you address them?
Tracey Nauta: The COVID pandemic has left its mark in more ways than one and we are still working our way back to normal. One of the most profound challenges the pandemic has left us with is overcoming learning gaps. We must address these learning gaps thoughtfully in order to accelerate learning. I think we are off to a great start with the institution of PLCs supporting and encouraging the collaboration of educators in order to maintain standards and expectations across the district and to work together to come up with solutions to help students who have fallen behind. We are fortunate to have an excellent teaching staff in our district and we need to trust them as we work to bridge the learning gaps. Our teachers have loved and supported our children through an incredibly trying time for all of us, now they deserve our love and support. As a community, we need to let our teachers know that we trust them and we value them. As a Board Member, I will stand with teachers and always do my best to make sure they feel heard and appreciated. We have aging facilities. It will cost more money to make repairs to Lakeshore Middle School than it would to build a new building. I will do everything I can to promote awareness and educate the members of the community on the necessity of getting the bond passed in the Spring. There are children struggling when it comes to Inclusion and Belonging. We owe it to every single child to make sure we are doing absolutely everything we can so that no child feels like they don’t belong. Every child can learn. Every child can thrive. If I am elected, I will advocate for every child to feel included and have the tools they need to succeed.
Carl Treutler: The top issue facing the GHAPS District is to secure renewal of our current bond issue so that a new middle school can be constructed. I will be making several presentations to community groups within the near future to explain that need for future students. There are also many local concerns that must be addressed within the upcoming years. I plan to fully research each concern and will support decisions made by the BOE. Safety and security for all children within the district being the highest priority.
Marc Eickholt: There has been a lot made about getting back to normal. That is not good enough. We must set our sights beyond the horizon and learn from the lessons of the past to build a stronger GHAPS. We need to sharpen the axe of our strengths while improving upon our weaknesses. This will require us to ensure that students and staff are enabled by clear expectations and empowered with the support required to succeed.
We must address a number of our foundational needs. Many of our buildings are well over 50 years old. Although our staff have done great things to adapt to them, there are needed physical improvements to aid in a positive and safe learning environment for our students & staff. This will require leadership to work closely with the community for these investments.
Finally, we need to continue to improve safety and security for our students and staff. Having worked in this area in the past, I see opportunities to be proactive in our prevention and concise reaction.
How will you build community understanding of and support for our public school district?
Tracey Nauta: If I am elected to the GHAPS School Board, I will work with the current members of the Board to continue their work in making the Grand Haven Area Public School District a district the community can be proud of. The School Board has taken incredible steps to move our district forward, and continues to work to make our district the very best it can be. I will highlight our successes and work diligently to address our challenges. In the community, I will be present and make myself available to stakeholders whenever possible. Having children in the school district involved in sports and activities creates even more opportunities to get out and spend time with members of the community. I will also continue my work on the D.E.I.B. Committee to educate and bring awareness to our staff and parents issues impacting our students and community with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Carl Treutler: Community understanding and support require full transparency within the educational community. I will continue to support that regarding decisions made by the BOE. At times this may appear otherwise but in the end our actions will be fully understood and legally responsible under current law. I will always respond to public concerns via telephone or email as quickly as possible.
Marc Eickholt: Public education is one of our greatest social investments with benefits well beyond academics. Community support of its schools and the performance of GHAPS is one of the main reasons why we chose GH.I make an effort to be transparent and informative. I was often frustrated with the lack of context about agenda items and results. While on the Board, to ease that frustration for others I highlight some of this additional information on my social media. The feedback I have received has been positive and appreciative. As a Board we can work towards ensuring that the public has a greater sense of our work and responsibilities.
In the end the best way to build support is to continue to improve GHAPS. We must work to be a destination that best prepares our students for college, trades, and global citizenship. This improvement only happens with a strong community partnership. After all, the GHAPS motto of Success For All not only applies to our students but to our community as a whole.
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