by David Safier
Read Tim Steller's column in today's Star: Tucson school board race turns partisan. Steller does a terrific job of laying out the dynamics of the TUSD board race. At the same time, he reveals the "Me"-centric world Mark Stegeman inhabits.
When Stegeman writes his constituent newsletters and his op eds, he's very careful to create an objective, scholarly persona. He comes across as someone who simply has the best interests of the school district at heart. But when he talks off the top of his head, he's not quite as adept at hiding his "Me"-centric world view. I did a first-person count of the Stegeman quotes in Steller's article. He used "I" 8 times, "Me" 4 times and "My" twice. That's at total of 14 "I/Me/My's" in 102 quoted words. More than one out of every seven words is a reference to himself.
Here's how Stegeman describes what it's like being in the voting minority on the TUSD board.
"There are a lot of things I want to do, or oppose doing, where Hicks is my only vote,” Stegeman said. “In supporting him, I’m protecting the vote I’ve got. He doesn’t vote with me all the time, but he does a lot of the time.”
It's Hicks voting "with me," not the two of them voting together. Hicks is "the vote I've got." Stegeman is the alpha male here. Hicks is a bit player, the foot soldier to Stegeman's general.
Why is Stegeman supporting Debe Campos-Fleenor?
“Debe, I think, would probably help me on almost all of those issues,” Stegeman said. “That’s my guess, so I’m going with the person who would do the most good for me.”
Again, it's all I/Me/My. His language doesn't describe Campos-Fleenor helping the district. Stegeman says she "would probably help me." She's "the person who would do the most good for me.”
By the end of the article, it looks like a great deal of the bitter divisiveness in the TUSD board originates with Stegeman. But Steller adds, it was Tom Horne's use of Mexican American Studies as a campaign issue when he was Ed Supe that was "perhaps the most polarizing issue in Tucson’s recent history."
Stegeman and Horne: the two people most responsible for the bitter polarization in TUSD, one from the outside, one from the inside. It makes sense to me. That's why Stegeman is such an important component in the TUSD board race, even though he's not on the ballot. If the November vote puts him back in the majority, his desire to micromanage the district and exert his influence will make it much more difficult for the district to move forward.