When Vivian E. Watts ran unsuccessfully for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last fall, she followed guidelines and didn't accept contributions from land developers.
During the campaign, Watts raised nearly $34,000 only $2,300 less than her opponent, incumbent chairman John F. Herrity.
But after her loss to Harrity, Watts found she had a $4,500 campaign debt.
Herrity had no campaign deficit.
Now, Watts is receiving help from John T. Hazel Jr., one of the county's major zoning lawyers and developers.
Barred by the voluntary guidelines from taking any donations from developers during the campaign, Watts said she would have continued the practice if she had been elected.
But since she lost and will not be passing judgment on zoning cases, Watts said, she has no problems accepting Hazel's help, which will involve making a few phone calls to some of his friends.
Watts said she still limits individual contributions to $100 and she doesn't expect Hazel to contribute any of his money.
"From my side, I don't see it as any big, high-powered move. It's something I feel comfortable doing," said Watts, a Democrat who now works part-time for both state Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid (D-Fairfax) and U.S. Rep. Joseph L. Fisher (D-Virginia).
Hazel, who described Watts as "very sensible and conscientious," said he doesn't want the campaign debt to cause Watts to lose interest in elective office.
"I've only talked to her twice in my life," Hazel said, "and each time I've been very impressed. I hate to see people of that caliber. . . lose, be saddled with part of a campaign debt and not get any help.
"I'd like to see her come back in the future and run for political office again."
Hazel, a strong supporter of Gov. John N. Dalton, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr., an independent, said his assistant to Watts "has nothing to do with party affiliation."
"I am an independent, absolutely and unquestionably," he said.
Hazel, a Harvard-trained lawyer, is also one of the most successful zoning attorneys in Fairfax County.He won landmark court cases that overturned the slow-growth policies of previous board of supervisors and has represented developers of major subdivisions in the county.
Hazel said that his notoriety and involvement in zoning cases prevent him from contributing to active candidates for supervisor.
"I realize I have a kind of second-class citizenship" when it comes to making contributions, he said. But, he added, that does not bar him from asking friends to help out -- as he will do in Watt's case.
Watts said she is well aware of Hazel's development interests.
"Obviously," she said, "I have to keep my eyes open. But everyone's got to be part of the system. I'm not going to be overly impressed with $50 and $100 contributions."