Kathleen K. Seefeldt, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors since 1979, faces opposition from a majority of the board and may be defeated in her bid for a seventh term as chairman, according to board members and county officials.
Sources on the board said that Seefeldt's likely successor would be G. Richard Pfitzner, a Coles District Democrat who has served on the board since 1980. Prince William County's seven supervisors select a chairman from their own ranks in the first board meeting each January.
Seefeldt, 49, a Democrat, refused to comment on the reports, but acknowledged that she has sought the support of several board members for another term. In interviews with six supervisors during the weekend, only the current board vice chairman, conservative Democrat Joseph D. Reading, said he plans to support Seefeldt for another term as chairman.
Although board members were unanimous in their praise for Seefeldt's leadership in her six years as chairman, several said they think the board should now take a more active managerial role and take a firmer hand with the county staff. Several supervisors suggested that Seefeldt is not tough enough with staff members and citizens.
"Right now we're pretty much staff-controlled," said Pfitzner. "The staff sets the agenda and stuff kind of bubbles up to us. There's not enough management by the board of the issues that are coming to it. We have probably been a little too reactive."
A staff member who asked not to be identified said some supervisors "tend to chafe under Kathy's leadership sometimes" because of her heavy emphasis on procedure in board meetings.
Sources on the board and in the county said Pfitzner appears to have support from four members of the seven-member board: himself, Republican Donald E. Kidwell and Democrats Edwin C. King and John D. Jenkins. Republican Guy Anthony Guiffre said he would not guarantee his support to either Pfitzner or Seefeldt.
The supervisors agreed that when the board selects a chairman in its meeting on Jan. 2, the vote will be unanimous in the interest of presenting a unified public front.
One board member, who asked not to be identified, said, "I had hoped that by now she would have made a public statement stepping down as chairman , that she would have seen what was in the cards. It's just a matter of time now."
"I'm ready for a change," said Kidwell, who said he would "probably support Pfitzner for the job."
Kidwell added: "Kathy has done an outstanding job. I don't think there's a conspiracy out there to get rid of her. But there is a feeling that we spend too much time worrying about procedure. I'm just for more action."
One supervisor who asked not to be identified said, "Kathleen has been chairman for long enough to make everybody mad about something at some time."
Pfitzner said he is not campaigning actively for the post of chairman, but he acknowledged that there is probably sentiment among a majority of the board for a change in leadership. He said, "If the possibility came down I would not reject it."
Seefeldt "has certainly done a great job," Pfitzner said. But he added that "the internal dynamic of the board has changed.
"The county's just growing so doggone much that the old reactive ways are probably going to need a little bit more management." He added, "We should see more than the midyear budget, the comprehensive plan and the CIP capital improvement program ."
Seefeldt is credited with restoring credibility and decorum to the board after a stormy period in the 1970s, when four members of the Board of Supervisors -- known as the "Four Horsemen" -- dominated county politics and triggered massive firings of county employes, shouting matches and political spats.
Her style in public meetings -- cool, cordial and businesslike -- is widely admired, board members said. "I don't think that we're going to step away from the decorum and dignity that's been achieved," Pfitzner said.