LANSING — State Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) was elected yesterday to lead the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus for the 2017-18 session. Rep. Neeley was initially elected in January 2015 as MLBC’s first vice chair, but assumed the chairmanship after the duly-elected chairman, state Sen. Virgil Smith, stepped down.

“We’re moving forward in a positive and unified way,” Neeley said. “We’re focused on tackling the challenges of our urban communities and working toward a better quality of life for all Michiganders, in the areas of education and clean water in particular.”

MLBC has grown from 19 to 23 members this legislative session, thanks to the election and addition of state Reps. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster), Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) andYousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). Due to time constraints, the additional eight officers were not elected at the meeting yesterday. A Special Call meeting to elect the remaining officers will be held within the next two weeks.

Johnson, who had also been in the running for chairman, said Neeley won the post “fair and square” and commended the caucus for having a healthy discussion on leadership and ultimately coming out unified.

“Sheldon is going to do a great job, and I’m going to be there to support him,” Johnson said.