This year's Gainesville contest between Republican Guy Anthony (Tony) Guiffre and Democrat Robert L. (Bob) Cole for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors seat isn't an exact repeat of the 1983 election, but it sure seems to rhyme. The difference is that this time, Guiffre is the embattled incumbent up against an aggressive challenger.

Guiffre, who knocked off Democrat Don White in an upset 1983 victory, is in the most precarious position of any incumbent as he seeks a second four-year term to the county board in the Nov. 3 election, according to political observers in the two parties.

Cole is hoping to capitalize on what he describes as Guiffre's politically contentious style, which the challenger said has alienated county officials and has thwarted Gainesville's chances for effective representation on the seven-member board.

Guiffre, acknowledging that he is in a tight race, said the experience he has gained in his first term has earned him a right to a second. Although boasting that he will not "go along to get along" with other supervisors when the interests of his district are at stake, the incumbent said his voting record proves he has been able to muster majority support on key votes.

Politically and geographically, Gainesville has a diversity that mirrors that of Prince William as a whole.

The district's southern end near Manassas has a heavily suburban flavor and is home to large numbers of commuters, many of them in construction and other skilled trades. Stretching 20 miles to the north, Gainesville's subdivisions taper off into farmland, where longtime landowners and a newer generation of affluent professionals have formed a powerful alliance in opposition to rapid growth. The Gainesville district's population is about 22,000.

Guiffre's political vulnerability was underscored in June, when he barely defeated two challengers in the GOP primary. Both challengers, John W. Dempewolf Jr. and Betty Duley, have said they are supporting Cole in the general election.

Guiffre, a 44-year-old executive for a Manassas heating firm who lives in the rural western part of the district, said he is confident that he can win it on his own. The incumbent said his outspoken rhetoric against further residential growth will prove popular at both the rural and suburban ends of his district.

"They both don't want to see any new subdivisions . . . . We just flat don't need them," said Guiffre, adding that he believes that not much land in the Gainesville district is suitable for office or commercial growth, either.

Cole, a 46-year-old real estate agent from the Manassas area who beat rural civic activist Claude J. Bradshaw in the Democratic primary, strikes a different chord on the growth issue. While agreeing with Guiffre on the high costs to the county of new houses, he said the best solution is to promote growth in the business sector aggressively.

"We have a responsibility to bring business here before we bring houses; that's how we solve the traffic problem," Cole said. Residential development requires more roads and other services from the county than commercial development, which generally pays more in taxes than it requires in services.

Cole takes Guiffre to task for what he said has been Guiffre's habit of inconsistency, trimming his political sails to suit whatever constituency he happens to be playing toward at the moment. Cole also upbraided Guiffre for making critical comments in public about other supervisors, supposedly endangering Gainesville's goodwill in the rest of Prince William with injudicious rhetoric.

"I have a proven record for the ability to work with people," said Cole, a former chairman of the Prince William Community Services Board. "An effective supervisor has the ability to get {a majority} when he needs it."

Guiffre counters that an analysis he conducted of his voting record shows that on board votes that were not unanimous, he voted with the majority nearly 70 percent of the time.

"That doesn't show that I don't get along," said Guiffre, who in campaign literature has boasted of his responsiveness to neighborhood constituent concerns, such as working for road improvements at certain intersections.

Among the publicized clashes between the Gainesville candidates has been a debate over what to do about a youth recreational and social center for western Prince William. Prince William has one of the youngest populations and the highest percentage of two-income families of any locality in the Washington region.

Guiffre has proposed paying for the construction of a youth facility through the sale of bonds in 1989, once other capital projects have been approved. Cole said the goal could be accomplished sooner and cheaper through private enterprise. Cole attacked a recent suggestion by Guiffre that the habit of many Prince William youths of loitering at parking lots would not be objectionable if they could go to well-lit commuter parking lots where they do not disturb merchants.

Guiffre said he hopes to spend $15,000 to $20,000 or more in his race; Cole said he plans to raise about $10,000. A supervisor is paid $15,000 a year. In 1988, the supervisors will be paid $17,000 each.