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Self-billed ‘social justice warrior’ to run for mayor
Monday, 15 November 2021 12:03

From Staff Reports


A self-described social justice warrior recently announced that he is running for mayor of Asheville.

Michael Hayes on Oct. 26 wrote briefly on Facebook, “Dear Asheville, I’m running for mayor!!! Stay tuned....”

Hayes is the executive director of the nonprofit Umoja Health, Wellness and Justice Collective. He is “a leading social justice activist who organized the city’s biggest day of police violence protests,” the Asheville Citizen Times wrote in announcing Hayes’ bid for the mayoralty. Hayes is “a leading local voice on social justice, race and children’s issues.”

However, he ended the Facebook post with a major caveat, saying that he would leave the race if former City Council member Keith Young decided to run.

“Young led multiple racial justice initiatives while on council, including a historic initiative to give black residents reparations, but lost his 2020 re-election bid,” the ACT wrote of Young.

Hayes wrote on Facebook, “If Keith Young runs for mayor, then I’ll drop out so my supporters will support him!”

The ACT noted in its story, “Both Hayes and Young are black. The current council is historic in its demographics: all members are women and three of the seven members are black, that despite a skrinking African-American population that now makes up 11 percent of (Asheville) residents.

“It is not clear if Mayor Esther Manheimer plans to seek a third term. Asked Nov. 4 about plans, Manheimer, a land-use attorney, said she could not immediately respond.

 “Council races are nonpartisan and involve four-year terms. Council elections happened on odd years until 2020,” the ACT reported. “Hayes helped organize the largest day of protests following the police murder of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd, drawing more than 1,000 into Asheville streets June 6. The event was meant to focus on young people’s role in ending police brutality and racism because ‘there are the foivce of this whole protest,’ he said.”

Meanwhile, Young was quoted as telling the ACT on Nov. 4 that he knew Hayes and his father and was “always happy to see folks with the courage to serve make such a life-changing commitment. It takes a special kind of person to run. I applaud the bravery.”

The Daily Planet called and left a message for Young on Nov. 9, seeking his comments on Hayes’ candidacy and the possibility of his own run for the mayor’s seat  as well as to obtain contact information on Hayes, but Young had not returned the call by the newspaper’s Nov. 11 press deadline.



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