• Greenville City Council District 3

    Two Candidates

    Marion Blackburn

    Current job and title:

    I am a writer, project manager, and paralegal.


    Highest level of education:

    I hold a Master of Public Administration (MPA).


    If you're elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?


    My top important priority will be guiding the city’s growth in a healthy, sustainable manner that benefits everyone who lives here, protects its spaces, and leaves a thriving legacy for the future.

    What does that mean? First, it means having visionary programs that will launch the city forward and keep it moving. It means protecting our parks from the wrong kind of development, and making sure we preserve our public spaces, and our open spaces. It means that with every decision, we must ask: How does this action affect our future? Will it bring long-term, positive results? What are the negatives? Can we find a better way to accomplish our goals?

    Making sure our city is healthy, thriving, and welcoming; protecting and enhancing our public spaces of all kinds, whether that means streets, open spaces, or parks; having reliable services; and assuring every person who lives here of its benefits and protections, will be my central focus.

    Within that focus are these goals:

    • Represent the people of District 3 and the community by listening, and by acting with transparency
    • Encourage healthy economic development, that is, development that benefits the entire community. I especially plan to focus on supporting small businesses, our Uptown District, the Dickinson Avenue District, as well as the Arlington shops, other small enterprises, and business owners throughout our community
    • Protect our parks, especially the Town Common, that is at risk of commercial development
    • Promote growth throughout our city while following good planning guidelines

    Quality of life leads to economic development. These elements work together for our combined advancement.


    If you're elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?


    My experience demonstrates that I am an energetic, dynamic public official who actively engages the public and voters. I enjoy the work. I will complete it with joyfulness and enthusiasm. During my previous three terms, I answered every email that came to me, and returned every phone call. I will continue to hold regular Town Hall meetings open to everyone. These actions show my commitment to the public I serve.

    Voters can count on me to listen to them, and to represent them. Right now, the community is saying it feels left out of important decisions. People tell me they feel the City Council no longer listens to them. Restoring their voice to City Hall is a central focus.

    When voters choose me, they know they have a hard-working council member who will hear them. They know I will represent them in decisions. They know I will not take short cuts, hide information, or conceal an agenda. They know they can trust me.

    As a candidate for Greenville City Council, I bring the essential skills and wise decision making our city needs right now. Our community faces the challenges of recovering from pandemic closures and illness; housing affordability; inflation; and other pressures. I seek election because I will bring the positive direction our community needs.

    I am well versed in public policy, having studied it, and developed it. As a City Council member, I successfully advocated for parks, greenway expansion, downtown growth and strong economic development.


    Why should voters choose you for the position you're running for?


    I have the experience and vision to bring healthy economic development to our city. These projects will benefit our entire community and position it in a positive direction for the future. Sustainable economic development brings long-term benefits. That kind of development genuinely improves our community. Greenville doesn’t need short-sighted projects that take from our community without giving back. Greenville needs investments for the long-term.

    We need affordable housing, dedicated funding for parks, safe roads, and alternative transportation. We need more small businesses. We need innovative businesses. We need greenways, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

    That’s the community I will work for – where all people have opportunities, housing, fun outdoor spaces, enjoyable shopping and dining, and exciting art and entertainment. I envision our Uptown District and entire downtown area continuing to grow.

    I will also focus on animal welfare. I love animals, and I think most of us do. We need to make sure our city has the resources for progressive services, programs, and ordinances. Those programs include TNR (trap-neuter-vaccinate-release) for cats. I’d love to conduct a dog house drive to collect shelters we can distribute to owners who may not be able to provide them for their dogs.

    When we help animals, we help people.

    Working with our own Animal Protective Services, non-profits like the Humane Society, Friends of the Pitt County Animal Shelter, other rescue groups, and of course the Pet Food Pantry, we can make a huge difference for animals and people in our community.


    Which three things about you do you most want voters to know?


    I have an exciting vision for Greenville. It focuses on healthy economic development, with flourishing arts and entertainment, thriving small businesses, and an outstanding quality of life.

    As part of that vision, we need to protect our Town Common from proposed commercial development. Unrestrained commercial development will forever destroy this open green space. Working for parks, greenways, and open spaces supports our long-term economic development by assuring investors we offer them an excellent quality of life. I will stand up for Five Points Plaza, and work to preserve it as a shared public space. Five Points Plaza is home to Freeboot Fridays, the Umbrella Market, Greenville Gives, and many other public events. We must protect it from development.

    The Master of Public Policy I hold means I have studied government and non-profit organizations in depth. I have the skills and insight to set goals for long-range growth. I am a public servant with a proven track record of working for the greater good.


    Is there anything else about you that you wish to tell voters?


    I grew up on a tobacco farm and have a deep appreciation for eastern North Carolina. Watching the Milky Way in the summer sky, running in the fields, and exploring vast woods allowed me to develop a powerful connection to my community, and its open spaces. Greenville is a distinctive area, with beautiful places, hard-working people, diversity, and a distinctive artistic voice. Our variety is our strength. I value this community and will work hard for it.


    Nathan Cohen

    Current job and title:

    Financial Advisor


    Highest level of education:

    B.S.B.A’s in Finance and Management


    If you are elected or reelected what will be your top priority and why?


    As a certIfied financial planner, I have a keen appreciation for balanced budgets, listening to my clients and pursuing opportunities — it’s my day job. Greenville has done a great deal right over the past decade in becoming a more attractive place to live, work, and play; Greenville’s steady increase in tax collections and greater prominence regionally prove it. As District 3’s representative on Greenville City Council, I will strive to stabilize tax rates and fees, collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville-ENC Alliance to recruit more industry and families, and endeavor to improve our quality of life through continued parks and recreation investments to enhance Greenville’s vitality for years to come.


    If you are elected or reelected how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?


    The most important job of a council member is to be the voice of the people in your district. I am already very active in the community, and I put roots down by buying a home in the center of Greenville in District 3. I currently sit on the Board of Adjustments with the city, I have been an active member of the Greenville Rotary Club, sat on the board and was the Chair of the Young Professionals of Pitt County, spent a year on the executive committee of the Pitt-Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and a coordinator for Sanitary Sunday cleanups of the Tar River University Neighborhood. Being active in the community is extremely important because you have to feel the pulse of the community and that’s exactly what I intend to continue to do. I want to understand people’s thoughts, questions, concerns about our district and lead by making educated decisions on what is best for my district.


    Why should voters choose you for the position you are running for?


    I believe voters should elect me because of my youth. Many might say this is a disadvantage, but I would have to disagree. I believe a vibrant young, hungry, leader is exactly what this council needs. Over a decade ago I arrived in Greenville and double majored in finance and management from East Carolina University. I have seen this university town change for the better since I have been here. Graduating from East Carolina and then becoming a young professional who chose to stay here, I have the ability to see this city from the eyes of both a student and an adult who is a property owner. With a large part of my district being populated with students and families I have the ability to see Greenville from both sides. I also want to continue the growth in our district and improve the downtown scene. I want to bring in more musical acts to the city, improve our downtown by giving young professionals and all walks of life more things to do in the community and improve the quality of life.


    Which three things about you do you most want voters to know?


    Currently, I am 29 years old. I graduated from East Carolina University. I have fallen in love with this community and see so much opportunity here. That is why I decided to plant my roots here and purchase a home right in the center of the city. I am from High Point, NC.


    Is there anything else about you that you wish to tell voters?


    I would like my voters to know how driven I am. I want the voters to know exactly what I want to achieve here while serving on the Greenville City Council. I intend to improve our quality of life by improving our district and investing in parks and recreation while also recruiting and retaining talent here in Eastern North Carolina.