"Losing Barbara and Leah is like a one-two punch," says board chair Conan Smith. "We'll be losing all that expertise and experience when the need is so great."
Bergman and Gunn have had a huge impact on the county's human services programs. "The things they've fought for will be in the character of the county for generations," Smith says. "The Delonis Center [homeless shelter] and the juvenile detention center alone changed things in an almost permanent way."
The two veteran commissioners came to the county board from very different backgrounds, Bergman from the criminal justice system and Gunn from ward politics. But they shared a positive vision of government and what it can do for citizens.
"In the '70s, I worked in runaway services in Wayne County and in children's juvenile justice as an advocate," remembers Bergman. She also earned an MSW from the U-M and spent three years as a probation officer for the county's 14-A district court. "That's always been my focus: kids in jail.
"I first ran in '92 after the census and a new Ann Arbor [commission] district was created," she continues. "The county was already championing human services. I wanted to continue to do good work."