In her Arlington County Board office Ellen M. Bozman has several mementos of her eight years on the board.
On the pale blue wall is a framed drawing of Joan of Arc with the inscription: "All the adventures of knights will not prove one lady's valour. She must fight her own battles."
And on the shelf is a small hand-painted ceramic shoe, decorated with tiny figures of the old woman who had so many children and so much to do.
"That is what my life is like. I have so many things to do," said Bozman, 56, who is seeking a third four-year term as an independent board member.
She is running, as she has in past campaigns, with the joint endorsement of county Democrats and the Arlingtonians for a Better County, a nonpartisan group which draws heavily from federal employes who cannot participate in partisan politics but may work for independents.
Her reelection would not affect the 3-2 edge Republicans have on the board over her and board member John G. Milliken, a Democrat.
Although Bozman says she has "rarely" had occasions to identify with Joan of Arc, she has had her share of battles, ranging from the establishment of nursing and retirement homes for the elderly to the frequent shoot-outs over budgets and high-rise development.
The major issues in her campaign against GOP nominee Robert E. Harrington are the county and school budgets, economic development, housing and the continuation of an "open" form of government in Arlington.
"The budget and economic development are two issues I see pressing in on us, particularly in association with a reduction in federal revenue," she says. "To what extent are we going to be able to continue essential services and how do we do it without raising the (real estate) tax rate, if that's possible?"
Arlington's real estate tax, the lowest in the metropolitan area, is 96 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Economic development, particularly along Arlington's two Metro corridors, has expanded the county's tax base. And though Bozman says a new, regional source of financing the subway system must be found to help avoid further property tax increases, the development associated with the system has been a welcome boon to the county treasury.
But it must be controlled development that does not encroach upon single-family residential neighborhoods, she says. Bozman says she has worked hard to preserve the county's Neighborhood Conservation program by helping to secure nearly $3 million in federal funds for local improvement projects.
Bozman notes that another vital ingredient in economic development is the preservation of small businesses that serve the communities and the rejuvenation of the county's major shopping centers.
"I think the future look of Arlington, if I had the ability to enforce my view, would be that as we redevelop the Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis (Metro) corridors, we actually achieve the kind of attractive, non-sterile, varied uses I think adds so much to the whole community -- places people like to come and shop at, places they would want to tell their friends about. Something to be proud of," says Bozman, a former member of the Arlington Planning Commission and chairman of the Northern Virginia Planning District Commission.
Bozman says she is also deeply concerned that housing costs and the widespread conversion of rental apartments to condominiums are forcing residents -- particularly the elderly, low-income and even moderate-income -- out of the county.
"There are no cheap, easy solutions" to the housing problem, largely because of today's economy and restrictions imposed by the state legislature on local governments' ability to regulate private housing, she notes.
Bozman said she endorses a proposal by board member Milliken that would allow landlords voluntarily to declare they will not convert to condominiums for a specified time. Under the proposal, which is being studied for its constitutionality, the landlord's rental property could not then be assessed and taxed at higher condominium values, as is the current practice.
Meanwhile, Bozman, who proposed the popular extended-day-care program in the schools, has been critical of the Republican majority for issuing spending "guidelines" to the school board which resulted in a cut of nearly $1 million in this year's instructional budget.
The majority refused to fund the county's contribution to the school budget at the level the school board requested, but approved a $44.7 million allocation that amounted to an 11 percent increase over the previous year.
The County Board majority's selection last winter of a new school board member, coupled with its firing of County Manager W. Vernon Ford in August, has undermined public confidence in the "openness" of county government operations, Bozman contends.
The appointment of school board member Simone J. (Sim) Pace was all but officially announced before the traditional public candidates' forums were held. Ford was told by the board's majority members to look for another job before the minority members were notified of his dismissal.
"We've had a long tradition of citizen participation in government, and I hope that tradition doesn't change," Bozman says. "The public has a right to know in advance when board meetings are going to be held and when their items are going to be scheduled.
"They need to know they're going to be heard fairly and that all five members of the board, whom they elected, are going to participate in the decision and that the discussion is going to take place among all of them before the decisions are arrived at. I think all of those are elements that build or don't build public confidence in the board."