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Godley opposes “voting bloc,” Blackburn cites record

By Dennis Mitchell
Election Correspondent

Voters in district 3 on Tuesday must choose between Marion Blackburn and McLean Godley.

Blackburn, in her third term as the district’s representative, touts her dedication to improving the quality of life for residents as one of the reasons she should be re-elected. Godley points to ending division on the city council and “true leadership” as key reasons he is better suited to serve the district.

The D3 seat brings difficulties for its elected representative: The district has a large transient population of students, families and renters, with varying needs and concerns. D3 was also “ground zero” for the highly divisive “three-unrelated” rule change to the city’s occupancy standard. The revision led to lawsuits, dueling neighborhood associations and the introduction of a political action committee into city politics.

In an email response to a series of questions, Blackburn called the decision to increase occupancy in the University neighborhood from three to four in certain homes “imperfect,” but said it is time to move on in a positive way. (Current At-Large councilor Calvin Mercer has warned voters repeatedly of the possibility of this issue arising again.)

(Both candidates’ full email responses to a series of questions can be read here.)

When asked about the top three issues that need to be addressed by the district’s rep, Blackburn said safety, jobs and walkability were those she would continue to tackle if re-elected. “My record shows my continual work for the shared values and needs of District 3,” she said.

Godley, in his email response, cited economic development, safe neighborhoods, and parks (including the Tar River) as his top three focuses. “If elected, I promise to make common-sense decisions to right the course of our city’s future,” he wrote.

Both candidates share concerns for greenways, parks and crime as areas needing attention in D3; economic development is another key issue. Blackburn points to recent success with development and investment downtown, while Godley emphasized the importance of attracting new talent and retaining recent graduates as key points, also citing continued economic development efforts.

Blackburn has been a strong advocate for parks, recreation, neighborhoods and animal welfare. Godley brings a populist message of ending the perception of civil discord on city council. Without a true distinction on the issues from either candidate, voters will have to choose whether to continue with Blackburn or allow Godley a chance to lead the district.

In 2013, Blackburn withstood a well-funded challenge, retaining her seat by 60 votes. This race will warrant close attention on Election Day.

Dennis Mitchell was At-Large city councilor from 2011-13.

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