ANN ARBOR -- Bitterly cold winds whip around Susan Fecteau as she reaches into a chalk-filled bucket, gets down on her hands and knees and writes a message to Gov. Rick Snyder on the sidewalk in front of his residential loft in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor.
"How are you sleeping up there, Rick? The moms in Flint not enjoying their rest, I think," Fecteau writes in green chalk.
The message is one of dozens Fecteau has written in the past six weeks outside Snyder's home on South Main Street and the various establishments he frequents in the city.
For Fecteau, sidewalk chalking has become a personal cathartic release of anger, but she's not alone.
A growing number of residents in the governor's adopted hometown, angered by his handling of the Flint water crisis, have been publicly expressing their feelings amid calls from across the nation for his resignation.
"For me it was satisfying a blood lust because in the beginning, I was so mad," Fecteau, an Ann Arbor resident, told the Free Press. "I was so outraged. The chalk gave me a voice, so it satisfied a pretty personal need. ... I was shocked that he wasn’t in Lansing working around the clock honestly. ...I want people to be aware, to get involved, to go do their own research. There is no reason for people to stick their heads in the sand about this."
Protests, wanted posters with the Snyder's face boldly affixed to utility poles around the city, and a well-publicized heckling incident at a local tavern are signs that the bustling college town where Snyder has spent a chunk of his adult life could be turning against him, Fecteau and other residents said.
But not everyone in Ann Arbor feels Snyder has mishandled the crisis or that he's even to blame at all.
Washtenaw County Republican Committee Chairman John Taylor believes Snyder has "unnecessarily taken a lot of heat."
"This is a terrible crisis for the people of Flint and it's just hard to imagine what they've been going through without basic services like water," Taylor said. "But this should really be about the people of Flint and what it's going to take to bring closure to get this situation resolved. I have to commend the governor because he has done what I believe a true leader should do. He has stepped up to the plate and although there's plenty of blame to go around, he's accepted responsibility for it because he is the leader for our state. He's not pointing fingers or trying to point blame elsewhere and he's working to find solutions."
Snyder is a Battle Creek native, but his Ann Arbor ties run deep.
He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in 1978, a master's of business administration in 1979, and a juris doctor in 1982.
Later at Michigan, he worked as a teaching assistant, a resident adviser and an adjunct professor.
Over the years, Snyder founded Ann Arbor-based venture capital and investment firms, founded an online health and wellness company and co-launched Ann Arbor SPARK in 2005 with former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, according to the organization's website.
Up until late last year, he lived in a $1.4-million home with his wife, Sue, and children in Superior Township, just east of Ann Arbor.
Snyder's office confirmed his move to the $2 million, 4,664-square-foot loft above a downtown storefront nearly a year ago to the Free Press. The loft occupies the top two floors of a historic three-story retail building on Main Street between Liberty and Washington streets The Four Directions retail store occupies the ground floor and dozens of other retailers, restaurants and coffee shops are within walking distance.
"Ann Arbor is the governor’s home, and has been since the late 1990s," said spokesman Dave Murray in a statement to the Free Press. "As empty-nesters, governor and Sue Snyder wanted to downsize and move to the heart of the city — and still be close to their three children."
It wasn't clear if anyone was home Thursday, as Fecteau chalked outside of Snyder's home. The blinds inside the loft were drawn, as people walked by and watched out of curiosity.
A man selling Groundcover News papers on the corner near Snyder's home shouted, "I love this lady and what she's doing!"
Snyder's move to his downtown loft was initially met with excitement from many residents and merchants, and Murray said the Snyder family is "very committed" to the Ann Arbor area.
"... Sue Snyder is active in a number of Ann Arbor-based non-profit and advocacy organizations, such as Ele’s Place, a healing center for grieving children," Murray said. "Gov. Snyder is a strong supporter of the University of Michigan and is a fan of the football and basketball teams, attending games when he can."
Maura Thomson, executive director of the Main Street Area Association, told the Free Press at the time she was "thrilled to welcome the governor and his wife to Main Street."
"It was great news here when he bought this expensive condo here," Fecteau, who is a real estate agent, recounted. "I remember it hitting the news and everyone was so excited to have Snyder here and how great it was going to be for Ann Arbor and he was from here."
Snyder's popularity and job approval numbers have plummeted as the Flint drinking water catastrophe unfolded, with 69% of those surveyed in late January saying he has handled the crisis poorly, the Free Press previously reported. Flint's water problems stretch back to April 2014, when the city switched from Detroit's water system, using Lake Huron water, to the Flint River under what was a temporary cost-cutting move.
Several prominent Democrats, including presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, have called for Snyder's resignation. In mid-January, dozens of people protested outside of the governor's home and called for his arrest.
Yet, the governor has rebuffed those claims and said he is dedicated to restoring safe water for Flint and aiding those affected by the crisis. Snyder announced Friday he plans to testify before a congressional committee on the Flint water crisis.
"The governor understands that many people are upset about the crisis in Flint, which represents a failure of all levels of government," Murray said. "He’s committed to the people of Flint and addressing their immediate and long-term needs. It’s also true that there are groups inserting politics into the discussion, and that only serves to distract from the ongoing efforts to help Flint’s recovery."
But for Ann Arbor resident Miles Larson, Snyder's response hasn't been enough.
Larson, 25, was one of two people who heckled Snyder Jan. 28 at the Old Town Tavern, which is just steps from his condo.
"I was with my friend having a deep conversation when I turned around and saw Rick Snyder," he said. "We just felt we needed to do something."
Larson said he became enraged when he saw the governor drinking a glass of ice cold water, with a lemon.
"As I was walking out I said, 'I'm just going to do this,'" Larson said. "I gave my friend a look and then I shouted, 'Rick Snyder, you f----d up.' I had just read about it (Flint) earlier that day and it blows my mind. The pictures I see remind me of Katrina, but it's man-made. At the very least, he should have resigned a very long time ago. He's not directly responsible for it exactly, but the people deserve accountability."
Larson said he didn't check to see Snyder's reaction, but he was disheartened that more people didn't join in.
"I don’t know anyone who has a positive view of him," Larson said. "But it’s weird. I was expecting someone to do something earlier, but some people here are pretty docile."
Ypsilanti blogger and radio host Mark Maynard, who first reported the story about Snyder's criticized purchase of a pricey birthday cake and party for his wife in Ann Arbor amid the crisis, said he believes residents feel they have a responsibility to keep the pressure on the governor.
"I don't know that to what extent he cares about the people of Flint, but my sense is that he cares about how he's perceived by his neighbors here in Ann Arbor," Maynard said. "And, because of that, I think it's imperative that we keep reminding him that we're watching, and expect him to make things right. That's why the cake story, although it was silly, was important. It demonstrated to him, I think, that he can't hide from his constituents, and that we're paying attention. We're not going to let him proceed as though it's 'business as usual.' We won't accept it. We owe it to the people of Flint."
Ann Arbor resident Jennifer Scroggins, 33, said she was upset when Snyder moved to Ann Arbor, and the Flint crisis has added to her anger.
"He's terrible and I want him to get out of our town," she said. "It seems crazy for him to be here because what he represents in no way meshes with our community. I definitely think people are much more angry than I've seen before. It's a slap in the face for him to be here."
Ann Arbor resident and barber Mia Jenkins, 26, said she also believes the governor should resign, but she doesn't believe Ann Arbor is being vocal enough about it.
"I think people are kind of quiet about their anger right now," she said. "You don't really hear much, but what's going on is mind-blowing. It's so sad."
Some Ann Arbor residents approached by a reporter weren't even aware of the Flint crisis or that Snyder lives in Ann Arbor. And Fecteau said, while 95% of the reaction to her chalking has been positive, she's been yelled at and heckled herself occasionally.
"I’ve had some people follow me, yell and scream at me who feel the need to support him and think I’m jumping to conclusions or that I’m a raging liberal whose trying to obscure the truth," Fecteau said. "I’ve had people follow me and say, 'Don’t you have better things to do?'"
University of Michigan junior Travis Jones, 21, said he doesn't necessarily agree with people who have an issue with Snyder being in Ann Arbor.
"You can't really tell him where to live, but I don't feel inclined to be supportive of him, either," Jones said.
University of Michigan junior Ram Jayaraman, 20, said he believes the governor is being unfairly criticized.
"I don't think he should be excused, but I also don't think he deserves all this backlash," Jayaraman said. "There's absolutely no way that a governor would intentionally poison residents. ... Flint isn't the only city this has happened in. I do think he should resign, but I don't think people should be going around saying he poisoned kids."
Taylor, the chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Committee, said he believes the individuals protesting against the governor should instead be "getting behind him and supporting his efforts."
"Trying to make (the governor's) life more miserable or making his job more difficult is only going to result in making it more difficult to do what needs to be done for the people of Flint," Taylor said. "In my circles at least, we feel that it was magnanimous of the governor to step up to the plate and that's what's important."
Contact Katrease Stafford: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-223-4759. Follow her on Twitter: @KatreaseS_Freep.