|The Marsden farmhouse|
Marsden, a Democrat who represents the 37th District, will be campaigning for re-election this year for the first time in many Annandale neighborhoods. Due to redistricting, four precincts are switching from the 35th District (represented by Majority Leader Dick Saslaw) to the 37th: Belvedere, Columbia, Masonville, and St. Albans, plus part of Sleepy Hollow. The 37th also picks up the Hummer precinct from the 34th.
The Annandale of today is very different from the rural place Marsden grew up. His childhood home, on Woodburn Road, was built in the 1890s and served as the original Woodburn Elementary School. His family bought the building in 1952 as part of a two-acre farm, where they raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, and horses.
There were other farms nearby, he recalls, including those of the Tobin and Johnson families. Powell’s Riding Stable was once located at the site of the Gallows Road/beltway intersection. Marsden used to ride horses on the trails that wound through some 100,000 acres of woods extending throughout the area now occupied by the Exxon station on Gallows Road, INOVA Fairfax Hospital, and the Fairview Center.
Marsden says his family sold the farm in 1965 for about $20,000 more than it was worth and moved to the Camelot neighborhood. Their former property is now the site of the Woodburn Village condos.
Marsden went to Woodburn Elementary School on Gallows Road, Whittier Middle School, and Woodson High School, where he played basketball for legendary coach Red Jenkins and ran the hurdles for a track team that competed in the state championship in 1966. He earned a basketball scholarship to attend Randolph-Macon College.
After graduating, Marsden was a probation officer for 10 years and ran the Fairfax County’s juvenile justice department for 17 years. He was later appointed the first superintendent of Fairfax County’s Juvenile Detention Center.
Gov. Jim Gilmore appointed him chief deputy and then acting director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. He currently manages a U.S. Department of Justice program that helps localities reduce youth violence and gang activity at Development Services Group.
He was elected to the House of Delegates in 2005 and in 2010 won a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment as Virginia attorney general.
Marsden lives in Burke with his wife of 45 years, Julia, a graduate of West Springfield High School. Their three sons graduated from Lake Braddock High School.
When asked how he thinks Annandale might continue to evolve, he predicted “it won’t develop as fast as other areas” with access to mass transit. “Annandale is well-positioned between Tysons and Springfield, and we’re pretty much built out in terms of acres,” he says, so future growth in Annandale will likely consist of denser mixed-use development involving retail and housing.
One of Marsden’s top priorities in the state Senate is providing more money for the school system. “So many people moved here because of the quality of the schools,” he says. “Good schools prop up our home values. We need to be the county of choice.”