Council chairman eyes House seat

Council chairman eyes House seat

Ken Marshall campaigning
House of Representatives candidate, Ken Marshall, and his daughter, Amanda, 9, campaign in Bristol leading up to the Democratic primary.

Ken Marshall campaigning
House of Representatives candidate, Ken Marshall, and his daughter, Amanda, 9, campaign in Bristol leading up to the Democratic primary.
Nine year old Amanda Marshall is confident that her father, Bristol Town Council Chairman Ken Marshall, will be elected to the House of Representatives.

But just to be sure, the two have been knocking on doors in Bristol and Warren, asking for voter support in the upcoming primary. Although Mr. Marshal has the endorsement of the Democrat party for the District 68 seat, he knows that Warren Democrat, John Hanley, would also like to fill that seat.

“He’s a good guy,” Mr. Marshall said of his political challenger.

The two will square off in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary. Only one will move on to the general election in November and face the unendorsed Republican newcomer, Michael Donahue.

Mr. Marshall sees his familiarity with the struggles and successes of small business, as well as his role as town councilor for the past 10 years, as a good foundation on which to open lines of communication between business and government, and knowing where each’s responsibility begins and ends.

“There is a need for government. There’s a role for government to play,” he said. “One of the things I hope to champion is a better link, a conduit, between the decision-makers at the statehouse and the people on the street.”

Mr. Marshall said he recognizes that Bristol’s success has been a result of foresight and planning, as well as a shared sense among local elected officials to maximize the town’s assets for sustainability over the long term. As a newly elected councilor in 2002, Mr. Marshall’s tenure began as the real estate market was soaring.

“I recognized that the boom would not last forever,” he said.

Instead, he pushed for the town to maintain and increase the employment base in Bristol.

“Government doesn’t create jobs. Government creates the environment for jobs to grow and flourish,” Mr. Marshall said.

To that end, Mr. Marshall said he opened up dialogue among a group of business owners that led to the development of a marine trades industrial center with companies such as Herreshoff Manufacturing, Goetz Boats, C and C Components, and Bristol Marine, anchored by Hall Spars and Rigging world headquarters on Broadcommon Road. He describes the results of those efforts as “a multi-million dollar economy that blossomed.”

Mr. Marshall feels that he has already represented the residents of Warren to some degree through his role on the Bristol Warren Regional School District Joint Finance Committee.

“On joint finance I see my role as a mediator between the Bristol and Warren councils, and the school committee,” he said.

As a representative, Mr. Marshall believes there is opportunity for him to bring these experiences to the state level.

“Based on what we’ve accomplished here and what has transpired over the last decade, there’s a need for new optimism and energy,” he said. “It doesn’t do Rhode Island any good if we’re not working to a concerted end. There’s an optimism that Rhode Island is capable of being more that what we are.”

For the past 26 years, Mr. Marshall has been employed by Donovan and Sons, Inc., a family-owned business. As its general manager, he has seen the effects that the economy — good and bad — has on small business.

“It hasn’t been easy the last four years,” Mr. Marshall said. “I can relate personally to the struggles that people are going through.”

If his principles worked in Bristol, he believes they will work at the statehouse, and that success can foster success.

“I’ve approached my council seat with the thought process that neighboring cities and towns can do as well as Bristol. It’s contagious. If (success) is a sickness, that’s a sickness I want RI to catch.”

Mr. Marshall’s campaign motto, “A Can Do Attitude for Rhode Island,” echoes the “New England boot strap economy” he said is the foundation and backbone of what Rhode Island is all about.