Ellie Serras, the outgoing, energetic former director of the Main Street Area Association, agreed to lead the campaign. Supporters--including former mayor Ingrid Sheldon, retired water commissioner Janis Bobrin, Zingerman's owner Paul Saginaw, retired educator Joetta Mial, and McKinley CEO Albert Berriz--spoke to civic groups, met one-to-one with friends and neighbors, and raised $71,000. They used part of the money to craft a superb website, ournewlibrary.com, that showed the new branches, documented the problems with the existing building, and promised that replacing it would cost a typical homeowner "just a buck a week."
"A millage with organized opposition almost never passes," Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum remarked last summer. "The default vote for any tax increase is always no."
As late as mid-September, though, nobody would have called the opposition organized. While some individuals questioned the plan, they had no funding, no website, and no leader. But doubts were bubbling up--often in unexpected places.