In what has become virtually an annual battle to determine majority control of the five-member Arlington County Board, incumbent independent Ellen M. Bozman is campaigning hard for a second term against Republican endorsed independent Sherman W. Pratt and independent Arthur C. Vogel in what is expected to be a close race.
Power on the Board has shifted between Republicans, who captured the swing seat in 1967, lost it in 1968 and recaptured it in 1970, and Democrats and independents endorsed by the politically effective and generally liberal coalition of independents and Arlingtonians for a Better County (ABC). That coalition since 1970 has controlled a majority of seats on the Board. Bozman is endorsed by both the Democratic Party and the ABC.
Arlington Board members are elected to four year terms. One member is elected each year except every fourth year when two members are elected.
In campaign appearances Bozman, 52, reminds voters of her role in instituting a wide variety of services that she says she was instrumental in securing for county residents.
"Arlington is a good place to live and work," she said in a recent appearance stressing the preservation of the county's "very stable residential areas," which she calls Arlington's greatest asset.
Vogel, 64, disagrees with Bozman's assessment. A retired USIA division chief running for public office for the first time. Vogel claims that the county's residential and commercial mix is grossly imbalanced in favor of non-resident commuters who work in Arlington and use county facilities over tax-paying residents.
At stake in the election, Vogel maintains, is "the shape of the future Arlington," including whether the county will pay for amenities such as urban parks for commuters who work in "drab places" like Rosslyn and Crystal City.
Pratt, a Federal Communications Commision attorney who is running against Bozman for the second time, sees majority control of the Board as paramount, just as he did in his 1973 campaign. "I think our county is in serious trouble (because) control of affairs for nearly 20 years has been held by one political faction."
Like Pratt, Vogel advocates greater citizen control over the school sytem and school board, both of which Bozman supports in their current form. Vogel says that the "abrupt changes from open classrooms to traditional schools has been too sudden" and has seriously disrupted educational continuity.
"The public is very upset over declining achievement scores," says Pratt, 55, who attributes the decline to the "misguided concepts," of school superintendent Larry Cuban.
The planned construction of 1-66 is an issue that arises frequently at candidates' nights. Bozman and Vogel say they are long-time opponents of the highway. Pratt is more equivocal: He says he sympathizes with opponents of the highway but "like Henry Howell I'm trying to look at both sides."
Pratt admitted he is sympathetic to both supporters and opponents of the Board's recent controversial 3-2 decision to build a temporary parking lot near the Pentagon City Metro station. Construction of the lot was opposed by local residents who feared increased traffic and pollution. "As generous as I am in my critcism of the ABCers. I think that's a troublesome one. I'm not sure how I would have voted. I'm glad I didn't have to vote," Pratt said.
Vogel said he probably would have voted in support of the lot had he been on the board.