Councilman Michael Johnson and Former Councilwoman Peggy Neely Launch Firm

Phoenix Councilman Michael Johnson, who is barred from seeking re-election because of city-imposed term limits, has already made plans for his post-council days.

He and former Councilwoman Peggy Neely are linking their political-connected circles to start a consulting firm dubbed Johnson-Neely Public Strategies.

As it turns out, the unlikely duo joined the city council at the same time, and forged a political bond at a time when there was a deep rift among their colleagues.

"It forced Peggy and I to form a bond, and from that, a friendship developed," says Johnson.

The pair served together for about a decade on the Phoenix City Council, and now plan to leverage the political connections they've made in local, regional and state government to help their clients.

Neely, who lost her bid for mayor in 2011, said she isn't interested in managing political campaigns. Neither is Johnson.

They prefer to help companies navigate the city's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, which certifies socially and economically disadvantaged business owners. They just launched their company this week, but Neely says she's been in talks with a handful of potential clients.

Johnson tells New Times that his interests lie the same areas he's focused on during his time as an elected official -- boosting small, local and minority businesses to give them a competitive edge.

As a former homicide detective with the Phoenix Police Department, Johnson is also looking for clients who could benefit from his knowledge and expertise in law enforcement.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity for both of us to work together," Neely says. "We have a large sphere of contacts and experience."

As for Neely, she plans to blend her experience in real estate and working major development project while on the city council to serve as more of a strategic planner for her clients.

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