Parties Nominate Candidates for Pr. William Seat

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 20, 2006

In a rebuff of the pro-growth policies championed by Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton, members of his own Republican Party yesterday chose as his replacement a candidate who vowed to slow development in the fast-growing county.

The vote -- of which Supervisor Corey A. Stewart (Occoquan) took 69 percent -- came yesterday at a crowded Republican party convention, where delegates chose Stewart as their candidate to succeed Connaughton.

The leadership of the commonwealth's second-largest county was thrown open this summer when Connaughton was nominated by President Bush to head the U.S. Maritime Administration; the Senate approved his nomination this month.

Both parties held hastily organized conventions yesterday to choose candidates to run in a possible special election to replace Connaughton, whose second four-year term expires in December 2007. Connaugton is waiting for the president to approve his commission to the federal post and is expected to resign early next month. A special election has not been scheduled but is expected to coincide with the Nov. 7 general election.

Stewart, 38, will face Sharon E. Pandak, a former county attorney, who was nominated at the Democrats' convention yesterday at the McCoart Government Center in Woodbridge. Stewart accepted the Republican nomination 25 miles away at Battlefield High School in Haymarket.

Pandak touted her experience working in the county attorney's office for 25 years before going into private practice in 2004. She told the 211 Democratic delegates that the county needs to build more roads and work with developers for "smarter" growth.

"Smarter growth has to be paced at the rate of the ability of public services to handle it," said Pandak, 53.

The county, which is growing by about 15,000 people a year, has been struggling in recent years to absorb newcomers and the growing residential development.

Connaughton has won praise for ushering the county into an era of more expensive homes and more affluent residents. But critics say his policies during his six-year tenure, in which developers have paid more for roads and schools, have only created congested roads and crowded schools.

"We are sick of traffic that has been created by big builders in the area," Stewart supporter Peggy Bassette-Hobbs told the 411 Republican delegates, drawing loud applause.

Stewart told delegates that the county must rein in high-density developments, which do not bring in enough tax revenue to cover the county services used by their residents. "When we approve large developments, we are essentially approving a tax increase," he said.

Stewart was nominated over John S. Gray, 55, a Lake Ridge certified public accountant who had pledged to continue Connaughton's policies.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company