Patricia Franklin, Democratic candidate for the Dranesville seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, is accused by Republican incumbent Nancy Falck of being "a nobody."
Franklin, in turn, says that Falck is an abrasive, "combative, grandstanding" woman who is out of touch with what residents want and is unwilling to compromise on issues.
The wealthiest and second largest of Fairfax County's eight supervisor districts, Dranesville will be choosing Nov. 8 between two women of somewhat similar backgrounds--both active in schools and civic groups--but with distinctly different personalities.
State Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Fairfax) says Franklin, far from being a nobody, earned a state-wide reputation last year "for leadership, drive and ability" as president of Virginia for Returnables, the coalition of civic and environmental groups fighting for a state deposit law for soda and beer containers.
Falck is not abrasive, according to county Republican Chairman Ben Partin, but is "a great lady" with a strong political organization that will overwhelm Franklin as it did Maya Huber, who lost badly to Falck in 1979.
Outspending her McLean neighbor by more than two to one in her reelection campaign, Falck is nearly ignoring Franklin, describing her last week as "just a neophyte . . . . In 20 years I've never heard of her. I don't know what she stands for."
In answer to charges that she is frequently brusque and outspoken, Falck says, "I'm aggressive, not combative." She said she stands on her record and plans to continue "the same approach I've had for the last four years." Falck, 54, was herself little better known than Franklin when picked for the Dranesville seat on the county school board.
Franklin, 42, describes herself as "a moderate, middle-of-the-roader." Her years of work for a state bottle law "may sound very liberal to some people, but I think it's conservative," a law that would save energy, money and beautify one of the nation's most historic states.
Franklin has been active in the League of Women Voters and nonpartisan civic groups, worked in former representative Joseph L. Fisher's unsuccessful 1980 reelection campaign and in the campaign of Huber, Falck's 1979 opponent.
Traffic problems have been among the major issues in both the 1979 and 1983 elections for the 10-mile-long Dranesville District, which stretches from Arlington to the Loudoun County line and bears the brunt of commuter traffic from fast-developing parts of Loudoun and around Tysons Corner.
Franklin says, "Falck talked a lot about traffic problems in 1979 but on the Loudoun border we still have the same communities pitted against each other over a road--Holly Mills Road--and all Falck does is make headline-grabbing quotes about kicking the Loudoun County Board in the mouth instead of trying to diplomatically work things out. . . It needs a regional approach and solution."
Falck said last week she didn't want to discuss the road situation, which is about to be given a public hearing. But she said that she and the county board had worked hard to get "the really major traffic improvement" along the Rte. 7 corridor: construction of the Dulles Access Road Toll Road, due to be completed next year. It will provide commuters with a fast route between Dulles International Airport and the Capital Beltway.
Franklin, a native of Washington, graduated from Falls Church High School and the College of William & Mary, whose board she later served on. She taught in county public schools for several years, has been a substitute teacher and school volunteer for more than 10 years and has been on the Fairfax County Committee of 100, a nonpartisan issue study group.
Franklin is running a low-budget campaign on $8,000 in small contributions, so far well below the money Falck says is needed for anybody to run a successful supervisor campaign. "You can't run for the board on $10,000 or less, certainly not in the second largest district with 81,000 residents," she said.
While Falck has said her goal in this campaign is $25,000, "we may have to go to $30,000," Ridgway B. Espy Jr., finance chairman for both Falck and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) said last week. "So far we've raised about $17,500 of that," Espy said.
Both Falck and Franklin said all their contributions have been small, almost all under $100, and both have said they will disclose all contributions though disclosure is not required by state law.
If she is reelected to the $21,589-a-year supervisor post, Falck said she planned to work for programs for senior citizens, to get more affordable housing in the county and to reduce traffic congestion around Tysons Corner.
Franklin said if she were elected she would work for more open government decisions by county officials and increases in teachers' salaries. "The 3 percent granted by the board was not enough."