“I do solemnly swear or affirm…” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley repeated as he took his oath of office on Monday, before an overflow crowd at Flint City Hall.
Neeley defeated incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver last week in a very close election.
In his address, Neeley repeatedly stressed the need for unity going forward.
Neeley also urged Flint residents to take a similar oath.
“An oath of unity. Moving this community together. Working one at a time. One conversation at a time,” Neeley told the audience. “Getting to understand where we need to go as a community. Amen?” To which the audience responded with a hearty “AMEN.”
Neeley is now in charge of a city with serious budget and crime problems, as well as the lingering effects of the city’s water crisis.
The new mayor says one challenge on his first day was knowing exactly who from the previous administration planned to stay on the job and who has resigned.
Neeley knew he had one job to fill. Last week, Police Chief Timothy Johnson handed in his resignation. Johnson is running for Genesee County Sheriff.
To replace Johnson, Neeley picked another candidate running in next year’s sheriff’s election.
Phil Hart is a former Saginaw County Undersheriff. Hart says serving as Flint’s police chief, and dealing with the city’s crime problem, will help him prepare for the job as the county’s top cop.
“If I can get a jump start to take care of that, that will help me work my way over to the sheriff’s office so I can get the whole county cleared up,” says Hart.
Hart is also being considered for Genesee County’s interim sheriff.
Sheriff Robert Pickell is retiring at the end of the job. A panel is expected to fill that interim job next month.
Hart says if he’s picked for that job, he’ll be resigning from his interim city police chief job.