A Metro article yesterday incorrectly reported the vote of Prince William County Supervisor G. Richard Pfitzner. He voted yes on a resolution to support legislation in the General Assembly that would enable the county to choose a countywide chairman.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors said yesterday it will support the efforts of state Sen. Charles Colgan (D-Prince William) to introduce legislation in the General Assembly that would allow voters to decide whether the chairman of the Board of Supervisors should be elected countywide.
Election of a chairman countywide would mean voters would select one representative from each of the seven magisterial districts and a chairman who would represent the county as a whole. Currently seven supervisors are elected and they elect their own chairman.
Supporters of the resolution, which was approved in a 5-to-2 vote, said election of a chairman countywide is necessary because of the county's burgeoning population and because such a position could reduce the historical east-west tensions on the board.
Coles representative Richard Pfitzner, one of the two supervisors who voted against the motion, said he fears an at-large chairman could make the split, which is between the rural and urban factions on the board, even more severe. Fairfax is the only other Northern Virginia jurisdiction to elect its chairmen countywide. This, said Pfitzner, makes John Herrity "the most powerful and the most controversial county chairman in Northern Virginia."
Ed King, who was elected chairman Jan. 7, said he has "heard no words of wisdom" on how such a position would affect the county. Although he voted to support Colgan's efforts, he cannot predict, he said, how he will vote when the issue comes before the board if enabling legislation is approved by the General Assembly. The board must vote again on whether to send the issue to referendum Nov. 4 if state enabling legislation is approved.
King replaced Pfitzner, who indicated that the tensions of the post he wrested from four-term Chairman Kathleen Seefeldt last year were among the reasons he stepped down.
King said after his own election that "everybody on the board should have a turn at it -- and I suspect one year is enough for anybody."
In other action, the board deferred voting on sending to referendum a change in the form of county government, saying it received information too late to study it.
The forms of government the board will discuss at its Feb. 4 meeting will include urban county executive, which would allow the countywide election of a chairman, city status, and county charter. Prince William is currently governed by the county executive form.
According to county attorney John Foote, a change to city status would allow Prince William a wider range of taxing abilities and would give officials control of primary and secondary roads.