There were, Fairfax County Supervisor Marie B. Travesky joked yesterday, some advantages to having lost her Springfield district seat on the County Board.
"I can do all sorts of things I couldn't do before, like buy mothballs and think about fixing up the bathroom," she said. Travesky, a two-term supervisor, smiled and laughed, in between fielding telephone calls from supporters offering condolences and asking her to run for other offices.
That's something she said she plans to do despite her narrow defeat Tuesday to a conservative in a Republican Party primary. "I love politics. I like being in office. It's in my blood and I'm not going to just drift away," she said.
Travesky, 51, lost by 128 votes to Elaine McConnell, 56, the operator of a private school. McConnell will face Democrat Gerry Serody, a pharmacist, in the November elections.
Travesky was one of two Northern Virginia incumbents to encounter defeat Tuesday. The other was Democrat Donald L. White, who lost his Gainesville seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, to John E. Bonfadini. Bonfadini, an associate professor of education at George Mason University, had made an earlier unsuccessful bid for the House of Delegates.
"I think we had an effective campaign, where we identified the right issues," mainly growth and development, Bonfadini said yesterday. He said his campaign this time was more effective than the previous one, because the supervisor's district is smaller than the legislative one and he was able to cover much of it door-to-door.
As she sat in her Springfield office yesterday, Travesky blamed the loss on the New Right and voter apathy, and said she may make a bid for Congress or the Virginia Senate.
"I've been under constant harassment by them the New Right. It started a full year ago," said Travesky, noting that conservative Republicans had obtained her appointments calendar, complained about appointing Democrats to county positions and circulated critical remarks about her.
Other Republicans said yesterday that while conservative Republicans may have played some role in Travesky's defeat, some of the blame lies with Travesky, who constantly seemed embroiled in controversial issues. She supported some public housing issues and was the only member of the County Board to oppose awarding the cable TV franchise to the firm that won the potentially lucrative contract.
"She never understood that Springfield is a conservative district. She never learned how to read the district," said one Republican official, who asked not to be named. "There are some things they don't like there. They don't like public housing."
Others noted the enormous amount of time Travesky spent on regional committees or lobbying the state legislature in Richmond. Travesky took great pride in those activities, but some said it diverted her attention from Springfield and the pothole politics that have been the way of life for the county's most successful supervisors.
Board Chairman John F. Herrity, whom Travesky accused of joining the New Right and supporting her opponent, said he believes the primary was mostly a vote for McConnell, who is an effective campaigner. He added that there are other conservative Republicans who would have lost if they had opposed Travesky.
While the voter turnout of 11.9 percent in her district Tuesday was high compared to the rest of the county, Travesky's forces failed to get enough of her supporters to the polls. McConnell, however, was able to draw out voters, especially those living near controversial projects, such as public housing developments and the route of the controversial Springfield Bypass.
"Few people are motivated" to vote for something, as they are motivated to move against something, Travesky said. "The general public really isn't interested enough in local government.
"They're letting this strange little group take over. And the public is in for a rude awakening. This group is not interested in the quality of life" such as the environment or traffic.
"They're interested in moral issues. Instead of Book of the Month, we'll probably have book burning of the month," Travesky said.
Almost immediately after the returns started filtering in to her campaign headquarters Tuesday evening, Travesky said she realized that she had lost. "When I saw the first two precincts, which I needed to win by large amounts, they weren't high enough. I knew then that I was going to lose," Travesky said. "And I was very relaxed."
McConnell said yesterday that traffic and environment are her major concerns. "I've laid awake nights thinking" about how to solve the district's problems, particularly traffic, she said. If she is elected in the fall, first on her agenda is the formation of a district-wide council with representatives from each major subdivision to advise her, she said.
"Walking from door-to-door, I found that each area had its own particular problems. And they were all frustrated about traffic," she said. "But the district is just so spread out. The question is, how do you pull this district together. It probably is more of a problem than most."