Flint mayor-elect says half of key staff selected; making 'no commitment' to water source
(11/08/19) - Flint Mayor-elect Sheldon Neeley is quickly putting together key staff members of his administration.
He says he has selected a city administrator, chief of staff and he is talking to two candidates for chief of police: Terence Green and Phil Hart.
Green is the chief of police for Mt. Morris Township. Hart is a retired Michigan State Police commander of the Flint post and the former undersheriff in Saginaw County.
Neeley technically is still a state representative 11:59 a.m. Monday. But on Friday, he was cleaning out his Lansing office and reflecting on what have been some of his greatest achievements representing the 34th district.
They include getting the state's first elected black legislator's portrait to adorn a wall in the State Capitol.
"Just an overwhelming feeling of being just grateful," Neeley said.
His phone hasn't stopped ringing, but one call he hasn't received is from outgoing Mayor Karen Weaver.
"It's unfortunate, but we will move forward without any anger or malice," Neeley said. "With serving the people and having a good time doing it."
With such a tight margin of victory, he understands he'll have to reach out to those who didn't support him in this election. He won the seat by just 205 votes out of more than 13,000 cast.
"You get a majority, you actually get an opportunity to bring over others that did not support you. So now we need to begin the healing in the city of Flint. I hold no malice, no hostility in my heart," Neeley said.
The work only gets tougher from here. The very first issue Neeley wants to tackle is taking a look at the city's finances top to bottom. Then he wants to do something for residents who have some of the most expensive water bills in the nation.
"The first activities that we will be engaged in is the financial transitional audit, the operational audit. We're going to hold a moratorium on water shutoffs," Neeley said. "I'm not asking or advocating for residents not to pay their bills. What we want to do is make sure we hold residents harmless as we get a handle on what is going on with the whole system."
The transitional audit will be made public.
Neeley went a step further to say he's also not committed to any one water source, including the city's 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit.
"It left very little protection for the residents. It's about ownership versus rentership in my mind, and the protections -- or the lack of protections --for the residents was anemic to say the least," Neeley said.
One thing he will need to accomplish his agenda in Flint is support from the State Legislature, including the seat he's vacating. One year remains on Neeley's term in Lansing.
"It's going to be a special election to fulfill the remaining term," Neeley said. "Maybe five or six people have filed. I think it's going to be a robust field."
Neeley says he is paying for the reception of his swearing-in ceremony happening at noon Monday in City Hall. The public is invited to attend and there will be refreshments served.