Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Smearing of Mark Stegeman, TUSD Board Candidate

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 10:20 AM

  • Photo illustration by Jonathan Hoffman
The Quest for Power

Eight years ago, Mark Stegeman was elected to the Tucson Unified School District board. Before he had any experience there, he was tagged with the “power hungry” label. That was supposed to be his motivation. This go-round, he is again labeled as power hungry, a thoroughly groundless accusation.

Interestingly, any critical article on Mark Stegeman will contain some form of the “power hungry” accusation. It is as if a committee was formed to decide the best way to attack him and decided that the “quest for power” angle was sufficient to turn people off, and was non-specific enough to require a Devil’s Proof to defend against it. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Let’s say you knew nothing of Mark Stegeman or the TUSD board, and you were walking down the street with a friend who pointed out someone in the crowd and said, “See that guy there? He’s an associate professor at the Eller School of Business. He has a doctorate in economics from MIT. He’s on a quest for power. I know that because he ran for school board—get it?” You might then shake your head up and down in a display of agreement thinking that your friend must have forgotten to take his medication again.

The Quest for Good Schools

One thing that is true about Mark Stegeman is that he enjoys speaking with people. He actually likes going door to door as part of his campaign. When he is not campaigning, he visits a different TUSD school each week and spends three or more hours there. One of the ways he engages with the public is by appearing regularly on the Wake Up Tucson drive time radio talk show hosted by Chris DeSimone where he is interviewed and takes questions from listeners. I feel I should point out that Steve Farley is also a regular guest on the show, in case you were developing assumptions. He even spoke with me at length on two separate occasions!

After speaking in person with Mark Stegeman, and listening to more radio interviews with him than I can count (even if I take my shoes off), I am convinced that he, as Chris DeSimone put it, “is someone who wants to do the right things for all the right reasons.”

Mark Stegeman is also the least political person seeking elective office I have met. Even after speaking with him at length (on two separate occasions), I had to ask him about his party affiliation (Democrat). He seems to be preoccupied with helping TUSD become a great school district, he believes it has that potential. Unfortunately for him, the board majority has other priorities.

The Magic of Three

On governing boards composed of five members, whether they oversee school districts or county governments, can be commandeered if you own three or more of the members. Such is the case at TUSD where Adelita Grijalva, Kristol Foster, and Cam Juarez tend to vote as a block. These triumviri are often openly hostile to Stegeman and Michael Hicks, the other two board members. Hicks and Grijalva are not up for election, while Stegeman, Kristol Foster, and Cam Juarez, are—hence, the smearing of Mark Stegeman.

Full Disclosure: I support Mark Stegeman’s candidacy, and have made a monetary donation to his campaign. I am (along with Steve Farley) also a regular guest on the “Wake Up Tucson” radio program.

Jonathan Hoffman is the Weekly's libertarian columnist.

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