As a kid, Spotsylvania County native Kevin Marshall would shuck corn to sell as hog food. He once harvested 34 bushels of potatoes for his grandfather Frank in about four hours. And to this day, the avid hunter plows family land to plant beans for deer. He says he can operate just about any piece of farm equipment out there.
“I’ll be honest with you, working-wise and physical labor, I’ve done some amazing things,” said Marshall, 35, a county firefighter and Spotsylvania High School graduate.
A love of the outdoors is in his blood, but Marshall recently became part of another family legacy that requires a suit and tie. He is the newest Berkeley District representative on the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors—the same elected position his grandfather and great grandfather, E. Solon Marshall, held for a combined 46 years.
Grandfather Emmitt Marshall, who is the longest-serving supervisor in Spotsylvania history, used to fish and hunt turkey and deer with his “grandboy.” But Kevin Marshall also did well in school, said his grandfather, who remembers speaking at his grandson’s eighth-grade honor roll ceremony.
The younger Marshall also served in just about every leadership position possible in the Spotsylvania Future Farmers of America, where agriculture teacher Bobby Orrock—a Republican state delegate—taught him how to debate.
“Kevin was always a good debater,” said Emmitt Marshall, who was two years into his first term at the time of his grandson’s birth. “He’ll do well as a supervisor.”
Spotsylvania’s population more than tripled during Emmitt Marshall’s tenure from 1980–2014, but the Berkeley District remains rural.
And Kevin Marshall represents that rural lifestyle.
He heats his home and water with an outdoor wood-burning stove, cutting all of the firewood himself.
He never wore a suit and tie for campaign photos, opting for a picture of him and his “turkey dog” Jake instead. As a Free Lance–Star photographer took pictures of him and his grandfather, Kevin Marshall remarked: “I’m not used to taking pictures without camouflage on.”
He did make some changes in preparation for the new job.
He recently purchased a satellite dish to provide internet access to his home, just a three-minute drive from his grandfather’s place. He needs to be able to answer emails from constituents—“the people,” as he calls them—and download county documents.
He said the satellite dish syncs up with his phone, but he’s still learning how to use it.
“Doing county business, it’s so much more to represent the people than just showing up at the meeting,” he said.
Kevin Marshall said his grandparents used to babysit him because, as he put it, both of his parents “worked for a living.” He remembers the constant stream of phone calls Emmitt Marshall would receive from constituents and fellow board members.
Kevin Marshall recalled answering the phone and immediately recognizing the voices of then-Supervisors Mary Lee Carter and Hugh Cosner.
Emmitt Marshall enjoys reflecting on those old days, about all the times he says he saved Spotsylvania taxpayers money.
Kevin Marshall has heard those stories several times over.
He’s heard about how his grandfather successfully pushed for FMC Corp. to repay the county $600,000 for toxic waste cleanup at the company’s old cellophane plant.
And how Emmitt Marshall lobbied against a proposal to sell the former Rappahannock Regional Jail for a buck. It ended up selling for $520,000 at an auction, and Spotsylvania split the proceeds with Fredericksburg and King George County.
Kevin Marshall, an independent candidate, said he plans to bring that same common-sense approach to the job. “You’re managing the money for the people,” he said. “You need to do a good job at it.”
He won a four-way race for supervisor, unseating incumbent Greg Cebula despite a steep fundraising disadvantage. He says he knocked on hundreds of doors with the help of his grandfather, friends and members of Bethany Baptist Church.
“We done a lot of campaigning,” Emmitt Marshall said.
He said he just might be at his grandson’s first Board of Supervisors meeting Jan. 9, just like he was there for high school baseball games and that honor roll ceremony years ago.
Kevin Marshall said he plans to stick with the job “as long as the people want me there,” though he has a long way to go to match his grandfather’s tenure.
“What my grandfather’s done, I don’t know that it’s been done anywhere else,” he said. “I’m taking this job one day at a time.”
“Doing county business, it’s so much more to represent the people than just showing up at the meeting.” —KEVIN MARSHALL