ECU students, young voters make the difference for Greenville City Council members

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A major change for Greenville City Council, as two incumbents lost their spots to young newcomers who are banking on improving life for a younger generation in Greenville.

“A lot of young people run,” says ECU Political Science professor Tom Eamon. “Most of them lose.”

But not 23-year-old McLean Godley. After graduating from ECU in 2014, Godley set his sights on political office.

“McLean Godley was really effective, especially with a lot of young voters, in suggesting that he would be very different,” says Eamon.

And ultimately, those young voters made the difference. Godley defeated incumbent Marion Blackburn who served the 3rd District since 2009, before Godley started school at East Carolina. Godley says his focus has always been on improving Greenville for the Pirates who helped him win.

“I think the students of ECU bought into the process,” says Godley. “They never heard anyone come by before and say, ‘Hey. What are your wants? What are your needs? What are your concerns? And they were really open to that because a lot of folks, a majority of our students are from outside of Greenville and they see the impact that students bring to this community.”

Eamon was one of Godley’s professors at ECU. He says this race demonstrates the power of the people.

“McLean Godley, and to a degree other candidates in this race that won this time like P.J. Connelly, are rather young individuals so this suggests the influence that students and very recent students can have if they’re mobilized,” says Eamon.

As one of the youngest member to ever serve on Greenville’s City Council, Godley plans to use that momentum to speak up for a group that he believes was overlooked in the past.

“It’s going to change once and for all,” says Godley. “We’re going to have representation and their voices will finally be heard because the students of ECU make a huge impact in this community and without them, this town would be radically different.”

The new council will meet in December.

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