Spotsylvania County voters re-elected two incumbents to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, but political newcomer Kevin Marshall pulled off an upset in a four-way race for the rural Berkeley District seat, according to the state Board of Election’s unofficial results.

Marshall—an independent and grandson of former Supervisor Emmitt Marshall—defeated incumbent Supervisor Greg Cebula, Republican Debbie Curcie and independent Nelson Gentry in a close race. He collected just $5,930 in donations, far less than his opponents, but says he thinks he won because he promised to put “people before politics.”

“I’d like to carry on the family tradition and continue to help my people,” said Marshall, who is a Spotsylvania firefighter. “I was born here, and I plan on dying here. I want the best for my community.”

Meanwhile, longtime Lee Hill District Supervisor Gary Skinner and Battlefield District Supervisor Chris Yakabouski held onto their seats. The Spotsylvania Education Association, which often clashes with the county’s influential Republican committee, endorsed all of the winning supervisor candidates.

Berkeley District School Board member Erin Grampp, another SEA-backed candidate, also defeated challenger April Gillespie with 52.2 percent of the vote. Gillespie had been endorsed by the Spotsylvania Republican Committee and the local tea party.

But the election was not all bad news for the county GOP.

Lee Hill District School Board candidate Lisa Phelps, who received the Spotsylvania Republican Committee’s endorsement, easily defeated interim School Board member Kassie Palmer with 56 percent of the vote. Phelps did not immediately return a call for comment.

The Spotsylvania School Board appointed Palmer, the only SEA-backed candidate to fall short, after member Amanda Blalock stepped down in June.

Marshall of the Berkeley District received about 33.8 percent of the vote compared to 30.4 percent for Curcie, 21.6 percent for Cebula and 13.7 percent for Gentry. Cebula, the only supervisor incumbent to lose, congratulated Marshall, but said he is concerned about the winner’s dual roles as a county employee and elected official. “I think there’s a conflict of interest in that,” he said of Marshall’s firefighter job.

Marshall has said he does not plan to abstain from any votes, but that he will not make decisions for personal gain.

Yakabouski, who handily defeated independent challenger William Nightingale with 57.9 percent of the vote, was technically the Republican nominee. But he has sparred with county GOP leaders in recent years, as evidenced by the Republican sample ballots that left his name unchecked.

In fact, attendees at a mass meeting of party members rejected his bid for the GOP nomination in May. Yakabouski, the only Battlefield District candidate to seek the nod, appealed to the Republican State Central Committee, which overruled the mass meeting vote.

Yakabouski said he thinks his “positive agenda” resonated with voters, but he offered sharp criticism of GOP leaders. “I’m a Republican, and these continued attempts to sabotage a Republican candidacy are sad and pathetic,” he said.

Skinner, a 10-year incumbent, won a three-way race against Republican Michael Berry and independent Todd Rump. He received 46 percent of the vote while Berry got 38 percent and Rump garnered 15 percent. He said he thinks his record of accomplishments, including the opening of the Virginia Railway Express station near Massaponax, won him another term.

“I want to thank the Democrats, I want to thank the Republicans, I want to thank the independents that all voted for me,” Skinner said.

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Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402 jbranscome@freelancestar.com

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