Thirty in a row.

Thirty passers-by on the concourse of Dale City's Ashdale Shopping Center were asked who represented them and where they voted.

Thirty in a row did not know, and wouldn't even guess.

The 31st took a chance - and got both answers wrong.

Perhaps that finding is a window on the political temper of Dale City. And perhaps not: Local election officials claim that 92 per cent of Dale City's registered voters turned out for the 1976 presidential election.

In any event, to live in Dale City is to be able to vote for relatively few officers and offices.

Beside national and statewide elections, a Dale City resident can vote every four years for Prince William County Supervisors, every two years for state delegate and every year for officers of the Dale City Civic Association (DCCA).

One recent evening, Dale City's state delegate, David G. Brickley, and the top officials of DCCA, President Terry Spellane and Vice President Al Caron, gathered around Spellane's dining room table to discuss Dale City politics.

"Over the early years, the focal point of politics was anti-Hylton sentiment," said Caron, referring to the developer of Dale City. "But now there's no big bad wolf any more. The problem now is neighborhoodism. If you don't have that, and we don't always, it's difficult to get people active."

"Our membership is now a little above 500," said Spellane. "It used to be 3,000. And it only costs $1 a year to belong. So I think there's potential. There's a lot of people out there who want to do something. But a lot of them seem to be too busy."

"We didn't have a political base here for years," said Brickley, who was once DCCA president. "In 1971, we got the first member of the (county) planning commission (from Dale City). That was the cat's meow.

"Now we have two supervisors. And the balance has swung from four in the western part of the county and three in the east, to five in the east and two in the west.

"For years, the citizens' association was the only rallying point people had. But those days are gone forever."

The most prized result of grass-roots politics in Dale City is the community's two-year-old, 54-acre, $1-million recreateion center.

Both the county and Hylton Enterprises were asked to build it, but both declined. So the Dale City Sanitary District floated a 20-year bond. It is paid off by Dale City homeowners through an increased tax - 21 extra cents each year for each $100 of assessed home valuation.

Meanwhile, next year's county school budget will include for the first time $182,000 to run Dale City school activity buses. The idea is to get Dale City mothers out of the business of driving their children to after-school functions. Other Prince William County schools have had such money available for years.

Such attention and money for Dale City would not have been possible 10 years ago. At that time, tension between the western end of the county (Manassas) and the eastern end (Dale City and Woodbridge) ran high. Disputes tended to pit farmers against suburbanites who worked in Washington. Not only had the farmers been around longer, but they were in incumbents.

However, the county was redistricted in 1973 to reflect Dale City's population growth. And in 1975, Manassas and Manassas Park became seperate, incorporated cities, tilting the county political balance even farther to the east.

Thus, "there's a growing responsiveness on the Board of Supervisors," Brickley said. "And the state has learned a lot from Dale City. I think Dale City's got a very bright future, especially now that you know where that supervisor is from."