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Profile: Dave Marsden, 37th District State Senator

Profile of Dave Marsden

At A Glance

  • Born: Alexandria, VA
  • Education: Randolph Macon College, B.A. Sociology 1970
  • Family: Married, 3 sons
  • Occupation: Director of State and Local Programs, Development Services Group, Inc.
  • Public Office: House of Delegates from 2006-2009. Elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2010.

Life-long Northern Virginia resident Senator Dave Marsden (D) is running for reelection to represent the 37th District.

The district represents portions of Fairfax Station, Burke, Annandale, and Centreville.

Marsden, 63, was born in Alexandria and grew up in Annandale.

“I lived in a small farm house adjacent to what is now Fairfax Hospital,” Marsden, who know lives in Burke, said. “My dad bought it in 1952. The farmhouse was the original Woodburn Elementary School.”

Marsden attended W.T. Woodson High School and went to get a degree in social work. He put his degree to work immediately after leaving school as a probation counselor.

Joseph Fedeli first worked Marsden at the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court beginning in 1975. Over 30 years later, they are now colleagues at the Development Service Group in Maryland, which provides consulting services for juvenile justice systems and facilities.

As a coworker, he is bright energetic and funny,” Fedeli said. “He’s always optimistic and really focused… He would be inventive and creative, but not detrimental”

Fedeli recalls one instance when Marsden was working as a probation counselor when parents of a troubled teenager were concerned that their daughter was constantly locking herself in her room.

“So, he took the door off the hinges,” Fedeli said. “It opened up the lines of communication.”

Marsden moved on to work as the chief administrator for the 121-bed Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center from 1982 to 1999.

“I ran our juvenile detention center for 17 years without a child being seriously hurt or having an escape,” Marsden said.

Marsden became involved in politics as a legislative aide, and later, campaign manager for former House of Delegates member James Dillard. Dillard served as a delegate in the 41rst district for 32 years. 

“He is a relentless campaigner,” Dillard said. “He doesn’t take anything for granted.”

Dillard said that many people don’t know that Marsden is a “canoeing expert.” They have both gone on white-water rafting trips.

“He is very concerned about nature and the clean water that is being threatened,” Dillard said.

After Dillard retired in 2005, Marsden ran for his seat. Marsden served as the 41rst District delegate from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, he ran and won the 37th District State Senate Seat in a special election.

Since his time in office, Marsden said that transportation has a key issue.

“Finding a compromise on transportation funding that involves both party and regional differences has been a challenge,” Marsden said. “The south does not want to alleviate our transportation problems even though we fund 80 percent of their schools.

In his time in Senate, Marsden said some of his greatest success was a recent bill that changed drunken driving penalties for drivers under 21 years old. The new law provides that offenders lose their license for one year and receive a mandatory minimum $500 fine or 50 hours of community service.

He also sponsored a bill that created a monitoring program for child support enforcement.

“It takes a couple of years to become effective in Richmond,” Marsden said. “As a member of the Senate majority, I’m in a position to help Fairfax County in ways that will benefit us all.”

To find out more information about Dave Marsden, view our social media guide to the elections.

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