The Arlington County political season kicked off last night, showing promise of lively campaigns for two of the three state legislative seats and the one County Board seat up in the Nov. 5 election.
The traditional campaign opener was before members of the Arlington Civic Federation, about 80 of whom attended the debates.
In the County Board race, incumbent Ellen M. Bozman is seeking a fourth four-year term as an independent running with the endorsement of county Democrats and Arlingtonians for a Better County. She is challenged by Richard J. Herbst, a longtime South Arlington civic activist who is running as an independent with Republican backing.
While focusing on her record, Bozman said the county must continue to find ways to involve newcomers in the community, rejuvenate older neighborhoods while containing high-rise development, improve child care opportunities and enhance other county services while maintaining fiscal prudence.
Herbst, a Commerce Department lawyer, was critical of the four Democrats who control the five-member board, saying the county needs "better policy direction."
He complained that the board was lax in requiring adequate parking in the development corridors and contended that it should take a more active role in controlling development and the recent trend toward "block-selling" -- in which neighbors sell their individual properties in packages to maximize profits from redevelopment.
The debates between the incumbent Democratic legislators and their GOP opponents for two-year terms in Richmond were marked by criticism of the incumbents, both of whom ignored the attacks, and by occasional audience snickering.
In the 47th Legislative District, which covers western Arlington and two Fairfax County precincts, Republican Thomas Dennison is seeking to block Democratic Del. James F. Almand from a sixth term.
While Almand recapped his legislative record on housing, crime and medical issues, Dennison accused him of working for "lawyers, liberals and special interest groups" in the "legislative bureaucracy."
Dennison, a retired federal employe who was denied the GOP's backing in the 1984 County Board race after he called party leaders a group of "right-wing Neanderthals," said he would work to repeal at-large board elections. He said "white racists" in a previous legislature repealed the single-district elections because blacks might be elected.
In the 49th District, which covers southern Arlington, Democratic Del. Warren G. Stambaugh, seeking his eighth term, is opposed by Republican Charles Viars, an executive with a Reston engineering firm.
Viars accused Stambaugh of having too liberal a record, including the incumbent's vote against a bill that would have required court approval for abortions in some cases.
Stambaugh said he did not believe courts should get involved in such cases, calling such situations "anomalies in the law." Viars said that, among other objections, abortion denies "the right of grandparents to be grandparents."
Democratic Del. Mary Marshall, who represents the North Arlington 48th District, is unopposed.