Eric Mays, Michigan

Eric Mays, Outspoken Flint City Councilman, Dies At 65

The city will fly the flags at Flint's City Hall at half-staff in Mays’ honor on Feb. 26.

Eric Mays, the firebrand Flint city council member who was known for both his theatrics during city council meetings and his tireless advocacy for the Flint water crisis, has died at the age of 65. According to city officials, there is no suspected foul play, Mays died of natural causes.

As The Associated Press reported, Mays was beloved in the Flint community. The Mayor of the City of Flint, Sheldon Neeley, said, “This is a tremendous loss for our community and a shock to all friends and family.”

“As our community grieves during this difficult time, on behalf of Councilman Mays’ family, we ask that community members respect their privacy and allow them time and space to mourn. We continue to lift the family in prayer,” Neely continued.

As ABC 12 reported, Mays was popular with his constituents during his time representing the First Ward on the Flint City Council. Though he lost during his 2022 election bid for the mayorship against Neeley and former Flint Mayor Karen Brown, he remained a popular figure in the city. The city will fly the flags at Flint’s City Hall at half-staff in Mays’ honor on Feb. 26.

Flint City Council President Ladel Lewis told the outlet that the loss of Mays represents the loss of someone deeply committed to the improvement of the Flint community. “Councilman Mays was not only a dedicated public servant but also a tireless champion for the people of Flint,” Lewis said. “His unwavering commitment to the betterment of our community has left an indelible mark, and his absence will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege of knowing him.”

As the Detroit News reported, though Mays is receiving plenty of public tributes honoring his courageous fighting spirit, that same spirit made him prone to public outbursts and got him escorted out of meetings on several occasions. 

Mays, however, told the outlet in 2015 while he was protesting for water justice, that he would always speak up whenever he felt like something needed to be said even if people wanted him to shut up. It is this quality that made him one of the first people that Flint residents recall speaking up publicly about the water crisis affecting the city. 

Mays told The Detroit News: “I get in council meetings, they want me to shut up. I get here, they want me to shut up. Everywhere I go, they want me to shut up.”

The Lento Law Group, which represented Mays during some of his legal battles, also issued a statement which both honored Mays and questioned why some, who didn’t necessarily agree with him while he was alive, were now issuing glowing platitudes. 

“Mays was a man devoted to public service. His unrelenting advocacy on behalf of his constituents gave them a voice in a government body that often seemed interested in silencing voices that did not agree with the majority,” the statement read. “We will continue to fight for those constituents and the City of Flint in Councilman Mays’ name and memory, including against those individuals whose gracious statements concerning his passing stand in stark contrast to the actions they took against him while he was a public servant.”

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