"Dumfries is the last small town in the eastern end of Prince William County, and it's about to pop," a longtime resident said recently, surveying the dusty Rte. 1 landscape dotted with "Land for Sale" signs.
The development of the Town of Dumfries and the surrounding magisterial district that bears its name is underlying the campaign shaping up there for the Board of Supervisors seat held by Democrat Edwin C. King.
King, who is running for a second four-year term, is opposed by Norma Garrison Pandazides, an independent running with Republican endorsement.
The district, which lies along the county's southern edge, stretching from the estuarine Potomac shore roughly south of Neabsco Creek, westward to Cedar Run, is one of the most varied in the county.
Along its populous eastern edge live professionals, blue-collar workers and some lower-income families. Many are longtime residents. A substantial portion of the district's southern section is taken up with the Quantico Marine Corps base and Prince William Forest Park.
The campaign issue in Dumfries is not whether development should take place; the zoning that will make much of it possible was awarded more than a decade ago.
The issue for voters will be which of the two candidates is best qualified to control growth and help ensure that county services, particularly transportation services, keep pace with the expanding population.
King is gearing up his fall campaign after capturing 56 percent of the vote in a hard-fought primary battle in June with county Democratic Party Chairman Floyd C. Bagley.
King, completing his first term on the board and having served as chairman in 1986, seeks to capitalize on his experience.
With so much about to happen in the district, he said, "It's not a good time to change horses in midstream."
Pandazides says she would offer more accessibility to constituents than her opponent has, raising an issue that surfaced during the primary campaign when Bagley accused King of being "an absentee supervisor."
Many of Pandazides' supporters say King has been too independent and has not listened to the citizens in his district, a contention that King dismisses.
He maintains that he knows the district as well as anyone could, having come there as a 17-year-old marine in 1946.
"I grew up with the county," he said.
Pandazides, a county resident for 30 years and a federal employe at the Quantico Marine base, says that if elected she would quit her job to become a full-time supervisor, as did King, who is retired from the Marine Corps.
She says she would emphasize grass-roots action in her constituency.
"I plan to keep citizens informed of what is going on. I have said I'll hold regular town meetings. I want our citizens to share their knowledge and expertise," she said.
While Pandazides emphasizes tapping into what she calls the "wealth of talent" among Dumfries residents to help solve county problems, King points to his experience in dealing with the issues facing Prince William.
The candidates agree on what those issues are: planning and controlling development, expanding the county's commercial tax base and finding ways to improve roads and other transportation services.
King emphasizes that he is a member of the transportation planning board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and that he has served as a member of the committee appointed by Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) to study the feasibility of a commuter railroad between Fredericksburg and Washington.
King calls the I-95 path through the county "critical," and says he is actively working to support an eastern bypass that would cross the Potomac River at Cherry Hill, routing interstate truck traffic around Washington.
Pandazides says she wants to see an expanded van pool system in the county. She also favors a personal property tax break for senior citizens, perhaps by waiving the tax for a senior citizen's first vehicle. All county residents now pay a personal property tax on boats and cars.
The county's Democratic Party seems to have mended any split that resulted from the primary battle between King and Bagley and is supporting King. Last month lawyer Harold H. Dutton, who had registered to run as an independent, withdrew from the race and is supporting King.
But observers say that Pandazides has bipartisan support. She also has ties to the Democratic Party through her brother, Wilson Garrison, the county sheriff. Garrison, running unopposed for reelection, has said he supports the Democratic ticket, and he does not vote in Dumfries.
"He's in a difficult position," said his sister.