"We're having trouble getting anyone to run for the county board," a high-ranking official in the Arlington County Republican Party conceded several weeks ago. "Why? I don't really know. It's a pretty thankless job, with all those meetings. Who knows, maybe it's just been the cold winter."
Whatever the reason, the Republicans now seen to have broken the ice. In the last two weeks two candidates, Jan McNamee Valentine, 40, and Stephen H. Detwiler, 34, have announced that they will seek the Republican endorsement for the county board seat to be vacated by Joseph S. Wholey in December.
A third Republican, Dr. Kenneth Haggerty, 54, said he is "seriously considering" running for the board. Haggerty was a county board member from 1966-1974. Haggerty, a dentist and chairman of the State Health Board, said he would announce his decision tomorrow.
First to announce was Valentine, senior vice-president for the Washington Board of Realtors and office manager for former Rep. Joel Broyhill. Valentine, who lives at 1605 N. Quincy St., announced her candidacy two weeks ago.
Last week Detwiler, vice-president of First Federal Savings and Loan of Arlington, who had flatly ruled out a possible bid six weeks ago, announced he was running as an independent seeking the Republican endorsement. Detwiler, a resident of 5512 Williamsburg Blvd., is president of the Arlington Kiwanis and vice president of the Arlington United Way.
Even before Wholey's announcement Feb. 1 that he would not run for a third four year term, liberal independents began gearing up to seek the combined endoresement of the Arlingtonians for a Bette County and the Arlington Democratic Party. In Arlington, candidates for the county board generally run as independents with major party endorsements.
By mid-February, four candidates - David Anderson, the Rev. James Browne, Allen Kitchens and Joseph Pelton - had announced they would seek the combined ABC-Democratic endorsement. The ABC convention is scheduled for April 26 and the Democratic Party is expected to meet in early May.
Until Valentine's recent announcement, however, there had been no official word from any candidate seeking the Republican endorsement.
"I don't think it's that unusual," said Peter Teeley, chairman of the Arlington County Republican Party. "I think a lot of people assumed that Wholey would run again and had to reassess their plans. Besides, there's no real advantage to announcing early as long as people are working to put together a campaign.
Independent candidates for the county board must file petitions with 125 signatures with the clerk of the Circuit Court by June 13. The Republican mass meeting to endorse a candidate is scheduled for May 16.