The mythical voter mandate

Many of Todd’s votes came from Pop Warner football and Rosemont High School football families and friends, as well as folks who frequented the convenience store he’d inherited when his dad died.

Todd felt he had a mandate to get a new football coach for Rosemont and he set up a meeting with Tom Galvin in July one week after he had been sworn in as a school board member to present his case for a coaching change.

His reasons for the change? The team’s losing record, the diminishing numbers of athletes playing football (more playing soccer now), lack of support for the coach among parents and most important Todd’s election to the school board on a campaign promise of getting a new coach for the football team. He even had the name of a new coach he thought would be a great choice for the program. His choice was a local guy who had played football for Tom Galvin at Rosemont and later for a Division III college program at St. Lawrence University. He was now a local attorney and a respected coach in the Pop Warner program.

Superintendent Galvin reacted to this proposal with uncharacteristic anger and frustration. “It’s not Kevin’s fault the team is not winning and the numbers are down. The parents aren’t giving him the support he needs to succeed.”

Galvin claimed parents were directing their children toward soccer rather than football and tried to turn the blame around. “You really need to look at what you guys have been doing with the Pop Warner football program that’s driving parents and students away,” he said.

As the meeting ended, Todd acted unsure of himself and mumbled something about getting back to Tom later on the football issue. But it didn’t take long for him to rebound with anger.

“The superintendent is blaming me and other Pop Warner parents and coaches for the Rosemont team’s poor performance!” he told his football friends and everyone who came into his convenience store. “He’s ignoring my election to the school board and my mandate? The superintendent is defending his good old boy buddy, failed Rosemont football coach Kevin Talbot. Meanwhile, students like my son are missing college scholarship opportunities.”

Of course, Todd overlooked the fact that his mandate consisted of 306 votes from 14,000 residents in the school district. Todd also overlooked the fact that his experience at the convenience store (the only place he’d ever worked), his years as a student and athlete in Rosemont’s schools and his role as a school board member hardly made him qualified to make any kind of personnel decision for the school district.

And maybe most telling: a survey of the residents of the Rosemont School District would have revealed that a significant percentage of the residents could not name one member of the school board. Todd was acting on a mythical mandate, but that didn’t not stop him.
By the following spring, Superintendent Galvin and school board member Todd Morgan were bitter enemies, and Todd did everything in his power to make the superintendent’s life miserable including trying to make him look foolish at every public meeting of the school board with off-the-wall questions he wouldn’t reveal until the meeting was in public session.

He challenged the accuracy of the information supplied by the superintendent and made snide public comments that inevitably made it into the local newspaper.

Todd also convinced his longtime friend and assistant coach in Pop Warner football, Terry Marcus, to run for the school board in the next May election on a platform of changing the football coach and getting a new superintendent, and Terry won a seat on the board with 280 votes, 20 more than the next best candidate.