Wake school board opponent Seth Keel launches Raleigh mayor bid

Staff writerJune 13, 2011 

Seth Keel wants to go from being arrested for protesting the end of the diversity policy at Wake County school board meetings to being Raleigh's next mayor.

Keel announced today that he's running for mayor in part because "the Mayor and City Council should be standing up to the school board and the state legislature, fighting for the rights of all students to be provided a quality education." Legally, there's a question whether the 17-year-old Middle Creek High School student is old enough to run.

The N.C. HEAT member has made a name for himself over the past year.

He was arrested at the August school board meeting for refusing to give up the podium. Like the 30 other people arrested, Keel was given a trespass notice warning him not to show up at school board meetings unless he got written permission in advance.

Keel was later escorted out of the April school board meeting, but not arrested, for violating the trespass letter.

At last month's U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights hearing, Keel blamed the diversity policy fight for various personal and academic problems he's been having.

Here's Keel's letter, which was sent to several media outlets:

To the people of Raleigh:

I am thrilled to announce my candidacy for the office of Mayor of Raleigh. I was born and raised in the Raleigh area and have enjoyed watching my community grow and change over the years. I have been blessed to be a part of the Wake County Public School System; which has provided me with a well-rounded education and prepared me for the world after high school. I have benefited from the rich diversity in our schools and in our city. The astounding growth of Downtown Raleigh has also offered me the opportunity to learn and grow as well as develop and strengthen many friendships. Raleigh has grown into a culturally diverse and abundant community. There are many things that can be done to ensure that Raleigh will remain a welcoming and beautiful city.

The City of Raleigh must commit itself to increase funding for arts, parks, and recreation. The arts offer opportunity to many people of Raleigh. We must ensure that our city maintains and increases the support of these opportunities. The parks of Raleigh need to be provided equal and efficient funding to ensure a family-friendly environment that promotes the basics of community. We should invest money in developing Chavis Park in Southeast Raleigh if we intend to invest in the improvements of Pullen Park. Parks are essential to the creation of a community and city that is accepting and open.

The Wake County Public School System is one of the main reasons for our continuing growth in Wake County and Raleigh. We had a history and a reputation of being one of the top school systems in the nation with a commitment to diversity. The City of Raleigh has a responsibility to stand up for equitable and just education for ALL students. The Mayor and City Council should be standing up to the school board and the state legislature, fighting for the rights of all students to be provided a quality education. Raleigh will continue to be a strong and vibrant city only if it continues to be a place that offers remarkable educational opportunities.

To ensure that Raleigh is a welcoming and inclusive community, we must commit ourselves to listening to all voices of the public. As youth in this community, we are not provided a voice. The leaders of our community and state have shown again and again that they do not stand with youth or students. The youth opinion is continually shut down and ignored. When decisions are being made that directly affect the lives of youth, our voices should be heard. Raleigh must be inclusive in allowing the voice of all people to be heard no matter their age.

I am committed to the Raleigh community and pledge to work hard and ensure that this city remains a vital and inviting place. Having been blessed with many opportunities, I will commit my time to ensure that all people in Raleigh have access to equal opportunities to learn and prosper. I thank you for your support now and in the future.

In pursuit of justice,

Seth B. Keel

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