In a county frequently divided by rural and suburban special interests, it's not surprising that a number of Stafford County candidates running in the Nov. 8 general election find themselves falling into two camps: those who would continue the current growth-oriented policy and those who would slash spending and the county's new administrative bureaucracy.
Because of the number of offices open on the Board of Supervisors (four) and the number of new registered voters (1,300 in the last five months), how the election will go is difficult to predict, candidates and officials say.
In the county's Griffis-Widewater district, the chairman of Stafford's board of supervisors is in a tight race with the same opponent he faced four years ago.
Chairman Charles Wandrick opposes Lindbergh A. Fritter, who lost the position to Wandrick in 1979 by 41 votes. Both men come to the 1983 election with experience on the board and as lifelong Stafford residents, but each represents opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Wandrick endorses the current administrative staff and its chief, Richard Bain. Fritter would rather oust Bain and reduce the size of the administrative staff in lieu of higher taxes. Wandrick sees recent tax increases as inescapable because of spending that took place before he was in office and because of a growing population that demands services.
Two candidates are running for each of the other two supervisor positions. The fourth open seat on the board is for tiebreaker and five candidates are competing for the job of casting the deciding vote when the six regular board members deadlock.
In the Rockhill district 16-year board veteran G.W. Embrey faces challenger Ralph A. Marceron. Embrey, 55, operates a dump truck service and is a lifelong resident of Stafford.
"The main thing is Bain has got to go. We got to take the power back from him," Embrey said. Embrey maintains that the current board "rubber stamps" Bain's programs every time it splits 3 to 3 and forces the current tiebreaker, John Nere, to choose between the two. "If elected I'd fight against those three board members and John Nere."
Marceron wants to strike a balance between cutting costs and encouraging growth without sacrificing what has already been gained. "I'm interested in issues, not personalities," he said. Marceron, 48, is a civil service employe and a seven-year county resident.
The third supervisor's race pits incumbent Alvin Y. Bandy against Margaret G. McWilliams in the George Washington district in South Stafford. McWilliams, 58, is a civil service employe who has lived in Stafford since 1976.
"People are trying to make the issue of Bain an issue in the election. I think the elected people are the issue. We've got an image problem--people who need to stop speaking with a forked tongue," she said, adding that current officials frequently contradict themselves. McWilliams said she also favors attrition rather than firings or layoffs to reduce the size of the administration.
Bandy likens the relationship between the staff and the supervisors to "the tail wagging the dog" and said he wants to "stabilize" the staff without firings.
A retired bus company owner, Bandy, 56, has lived in Stafford for 40 years and has been on the board of supervisors for the last 12 years. Bandy was chairman of the board from 1979 to 1981 when Wandrick won the spot.
The race for tiebreaker fields five candidates who will vie for Nere's job in an at-large contest. The five include Ferris M. Belman, Fred Dillon, Warren E. Edwards, Marbury A. Fagan and Dennis R. Ottley. Dillon and Ottley could not be reached for comment.
Belman, 56, is a retail grocery store owner and a Stafford County resident since April 1. Belman served four terms as a Fredericksburg City Council member and resigned to move to Stafford, he said. He added that he favors a cut in taxes.
Edwards, 41, is a heating and air conditioning serviceman and a lifelong Stafford resident. He said he favors eliminating the tiebreaker's position so that a seventh member to the board could be added.
"Nere has been in the position where he's had to vote on several things but had no input on them. And if he had some input he might have been able to resolve some of the problems," Edwards said.
Fagan, a supervisor from 1972 to 1976, is a semiretired electrician who has lived in Stafford for 25 years. Fagan lost a reelection bid in 1981 by nine votes.
"I am totally opposed to the present tax rate. We do not need it, there are so many hidden figures in the budget to take care of some of those high salaried officials," Fagan said, adding that he favors the dismissal of the county administrator.
Nere is stepping aside from the tiebreaker's position to run for the House of Delegates in the 53rd District against incumbent delegate Thomas Moncure Jr.
Several courthouse positions are up for election Nov. 8, although only one race is being contested. Incumbent clerk to the court Lillian T. Knight faces Travers G. Berry in that race.
Knight was appointed clerk two years ago when the then-clerk died in office. Before that the lifelong Stafford resident was chief deputy to the clerk for 30 years. She is 63 and said she will make few changes in the way the office is conducted if she is elected.
Berry, 43, is the director of transportation for the county school system and is also a lifelong Stafford resident. "I really don't have a platform, I'm just running on my own merits. I'm looking to better myself. I'm new in politics," he said.
Four courthouse officeholders are unopposed, including incumbents George L. Gordon Jr., commissioner of revenue; Daniel M. Chichester, commonwealth attorney; Richard L. Ashby, sheriff, and McCarty C. Moncure, treasurer.