Helping the public was Marshall's goal


POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BARBARA Marshall was often described as tough, tenacious, stern and abrupt. She was, but she also was honest, intelligent and empathetic.

Those qualities served her well in her long career as a television reporter and as a member of the City Council.

Marshall, who died Sunday at age 64, would candidly and proudly acknowledge her forceful nature. Like many of the women who made inroads in the broadcast field at a time when it was largely dominated by men, she knew she had to be assertive and work harder.

She left television under less than ideal circumstances, filing a gender and age discrimination lawsuit that was settled, but later she would privately lament that broadcast news had reverted to hiring women and men whose journalistic abilities were secondary to their telegenics.

Marshall saw her move to elective office as a way to continue helping the public as she did as a reporter. She used her skills to ask questions and to probe for details about issues before the Council.

An independent thinker, she stuck to her guns even in the face of heavy opposition, as she did on rail transit and legalizing vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfast operations.

At times, her uncompromising stances worked against her, refusing to trade her vote and establish alliances for political expediency. But she was able to work with fellow councilmembers because she was upfront about her points of view. She tried, above all, to remain true to herself.