Steve Adolph assumed the highest unelected position in the Tempe Union High School District on July 1, ready and willing to take the reins of the district in which he'd grown up. "Same as all the other days," Adolph laughed at the end of his first day as district superintendent. Previous superintendent Dr. Shirley Miles surprised many when she announced she would not seek to extend her June 30-terminating employment contract. Adolph threw his hat into the potential replacement ring and district employees began circulating a petition urging the Tempe Union High board to hire him. "We think Steve exemplifies all the necessary qualities," said Eric Ladue, a teacher at Tempe Corona del Sol High School, in March when he delivered a stack of petitions to the board. "He's well-known, well-liked and well-respected... Teachers are very much in support. I think district administrators are too." Adolph, a Gilbert resident, has spent 25 years in the Tempe Union district, with the last six spent in the associate superintendent position. Prior to that he was principal at Tempe Marcos de Niza High School, and prior to that he was a teacher and then an assistant principal at Tempe Corona del Sol High School. He graduated from Marcos de Niza. The selection process for Adolph was not without its controversy. The Tempe Union board was split 3-2 on whether or not to shell out $25,000 to $35,000 for a national headhunting firm to comb the country looking for candidates. "In this room tonight we have people who have dedicated their lives to the Tempe Union High School District," said board member Mary Lou Taylor, who along with Michelle Helm voted against spending the money. "They have taught in Tempe, they have been coaches in Tempe and some of them have even been students in Tempe. "It seems it could be a waste of taxpayers' dollars to hire a search firm to find what we already have in the room." Neither would say whether or not they were directly referring to Adolph, but in retrospect it seems rather clear.