He was arrested last August while protesting the school board's controversial community schools plan.
In the letter announcing his candidacy, Keel said Raleigh has a responsibility to stand up for equal 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," he said. "Raleigh will continue to be a strong and vibrant city only if it continues to be a place that offers remarkable educational opportunities."
He also said he hopes to provide a voice for the youth in the community.
"I am committed to the Raleigh community and pledge to work hard and ensure that this city remains a vital and inviting place," Keel said. "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."
This past April, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker announced he would not see re-election.
You must be 21 to hold elected office in North Carolina. Keel is currently 16. He turns 17 in August.
Contacted by ABC11 Monday, Keel said his legal team is looking into the rule. He said even if he can't legally hold the mayor's position, he will still campaign - saying there is noone on Raleigh's city council focused on the city's youth.