An article in some editions yesterday incorrectly stated that the election of Kate Hanley to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will give the board its first female majority. Women were a majority on the board between 1979 and 1984.
Democrat Kate Hanley won the Providence district seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday, easily defeating Republican Del. Stephen E. Gordy and turning back the GOP's bid to increase its one-vote majority on the board.
Unofficial returns gave Hanley 5,130 votes to Gordy's 3,787 in the special election to fill the seat vacated by last month's resignation of four-term Supervisor James M. Scott, a Democrat. Hanley, a former member of the county School Board, outpolled Gordy in all but five of the district's 23 precincts, according to county election officials. The district stretches from Seven Corners to the Fair Oaks Mall area.
Hanley, 43, and other Fairfax Democrats hailed her victory as a repudiation of the prodevelopment policies embraced by the present Republican-dominated board.
"The voters are saying they want controlled growth and improved traffic and transportation conditions in the county," a jubilant Hanley said shortly after the votes were tallied unofficially. She added that voters responded to campaign themes that stressed stricter adherence by board members to county and state ethics laws and an arms-length relationship between elected officials and developers.
Hanley's victory gives the Democrats a boost going into the 1987 general election in their attempt to recapture control of the board.
When Hanley takes office, which could occur as early as this week, it will also mark the first time that the nine-member board has had a majority of women. The other female supervisors are Vice Chairman Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville), Audrey Moore (D-Annandale), Nancy K. Falck (R-Dranesville) and Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield).
The special election was called after Scott, a Democrat who was first elected to the board in 1972, announced that he was resigning to become director of community affairs for the Fairfax Hospital Association. His unexpected departure further depleted the ranks of slow-growth advocates on the board, which in the mid-1970s was dominated by supervisors opposed to the county's rapid development.
The results also provided a personal and political boost to Moore, whose controlled-growth posture has antagonized many of her board colleagues, particularly in light of the recent ethics controversy surrounding Republican Board Chairman John F. Herrity and, to a lesser extent, other board members.
With Scott's departure, Moore lost an ally on most development-related issues, and political strategists in the two parties predicted that a Gordy victory would severely undercut Moore's influence on the board.
Gordy, a 66-year-old legislator who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1983, attributed his defeat in large part to what he said were a superior Democratic organization and efforts to get out the vote.
He said that another important factor in his defeat was the development issue. "People are ready for a slowdown in development, and the Democrats convinced people that they would do a better job of that than I would."
Gordy said he did not believe that the Fairfax commonwealth's attorney's conflict-of-interest investigation of Herrity, the county's most influential Republican, contributed to his defeat. Gordy said he did not ask Herrity to campaign publicly for him.
Despite his loss, Gordy said area Republicans should be encouraged because all elements of what has been a badly fractured countywide GOP worked together during his campaign. He said he will not decide for several months whether to seek reelection to his seat in the House of Delegates.
Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason) described the election as "a lost opportunity" for the Republicans, who were trying to solidify their majority on the board. He said the victory of Hanley, who he said is ideologically in tune with most of Scott's positions, will mean that the policies and the votes of the board will remain essentially unchanged.
Hanley's victory climaxed a generally subdued seven-week campaign during which each candidate promised to slow the pace of development. But Hanley took a more forceful and specific stand, pledging to oppose all rezonings that went beyond the county master plan.