Virginia's 10th District congressional campaign got off to a heated start last night with a series of spirited exchanges between Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf and his Democratic challenger, John Flannery, at a debate in Arlington.
The two, often with raised voices, traded almost a half hour of accusations and barbs in their first debate of the campaign. An audience of nearly 150 cheered and applauded during a forum sponsored by the Arlington Civic Federation.
Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) also spoke, with State Sen. Edward M. Holland standing in for Warner's Democratic opponent, State Del. Edythe Harrison. Democratic County Board member John G. Milliken also debated his opponent, Peter Espada, a Republican-backed independent, at the forum, the traditional inaugural of the County Board race.
But the most spirited sparring was left to Wolf, who concentrated on reviewing his votes affecting local matters, and Flannery, who attacked Wolf for his positions on national issues ranging from education and nuclear warfare to women's equality.
"I've waited all summer to talk to you, Frank," Flannery began, in a reference to his attempts to get Wolf to debate before now.
Later, when Wolf talked about his attempts to lower the passenger ceiling at National Airport, Flannery retorted, "It's a cathedral-like ceiling and yet he lauds it as a success."
At another point, Wolf recalled Flannery's now-withdrawn accusation that the two-term congressman failed to vote in subcommittee for a study on pay-equity for women in the federal government. Wolf was not a member of the subcommittee, but voted for the study on the House floor, and Flannery has apologized for the error.
"Political campaigns are not to be run in Northern Virginia with distortions and not telling the truth," Wolf snapped at Flannery.
Wolf detailed his positions on issues affecting federal employes and retirees, and spoke of his support for cost-of-living salary adjustments (COLA) for them.
Flannery responded that Wolf hasn't always supported COLAs, and called on an audience member who is an officer of the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employes, who disputed Wolf's statement last night that the national organization had endorsed him.
In the County Board debate, Milliken and Espada outlined their positions on development, schools, taxes and transportation issues. On development, one of the most volatile issues in recent campaigns, Milliken said it is a "mixed blessing."
While it helps keep tax rates down for residents and helps renew older areas, Milliken said, "The challenge is to mold development in a way that brings the desired renewal but protects the residential areas and serves them."
Espada said the county needs a new negotiating style "that lets us look at all the angles . . . . Where developers become partners in our efforts to bring much-needed redevelopment to Arlington" and still provides for increased citizen involvement in the planning.