Task A Eight: Identifying Opponents

Identify potential opponents of the districting effort as you identify supporters. When you are identifying opponents focus on those who are community opinion leaders or who represent organized groups. Community leaders who are most likely to oppose a districting effort are those who oppose taxes and tax supported services in general. They may do this out of concern about their own taxes or they may oppose taxes on principle. Other community leaders are not opposed to taxes in general, but may see a new district as a threat to other local government services they view as more vital. Whether you should contact opinion leaders who you believe will oppose the districting effort at this point is a political decision that will depend to a large extent on what you know about the person and the community. In some cases, an opinion leader may become less opposed to a project if contacted. S/he may see the contact as a sign of respect. On the other hand if you contact opponents and you continue to work on the project, they may see that as a sign that you disregarded their opinions.

Contacting opponents may give them more time to organize against a districting effort. Keep in mind; some people that you think will oppose the effort may surprise you. Public libraries carry a tremendous amount of good will in a democracy. People who do not support other forms of tax-supported services often are very favorable to public libraries.

Use the same interviewing process when speaking with those who support, oppose, or are neutral. You are simply seeking information. Do not argue with those who say they are opposed to a library district, but offer to give them more information if they wish it.

The project is probably viable and you will want to proceed, if you find that the opposition to it is weak.