Sixteen years ago, a group of Democrats swept into office in Fairfax County, seizing seven of nine seats on the county's Board of Supervisors and promising to slow the torrid pace of residential construction and protect the environment.
Leading the charge was a freshman, then known as Mrs. Samuel V. Moore. Unbending and persistent, Supervisor Audrey Moore of Annandale argued that "rapid growth can only mean higher taxes, congested roads and higher levels of air and water pollution."
At the same time, freshman Supervisor John F. Herrity of Springfield, the board's only Republican, waged a lonely guerrilla war against the slow-growthers. His was the voice of mainstream Republicanism: pro-business, antibureaucractic and, above all, noninterventionist.
"Talking about growth is like talking about the weather," he said some years later. "It's out there and what can you do about it?"
An extensive Washington Post review of Herrity's and Moore's voting records shows that, with predictable regularity, they have staked out opposing positions on many if not most of the critical questions the county has faced in the 16 years they have served together on the board.
In a sense, their heated race for the chairmanship this year is the culmination of that long debate, one that will end Election Day, Nov. 3. The election will pivot on the same issues that have divided Herrity and Moore over the years, especially transportation and the pace of development.
During its four years in office, from 1972 to 1976, the slow-growth board used its electoral mandate to impede not only new housing construction but also the public facilities that serve new projects -- sewer lines, sewage treatment plants, water supply sources and road construction.
However, those attempts to ban rezonings and block new public facilities were repeatedly repudiated by Virginia's courts and General Assembly, and in the end they were largely unsuccessful.
To Herrity, the judicial and legislative decisions limiting the county's power to curb development reaffirmed his views that growth is like the weather -- uncontrollable. His response was to encourage a rapid expansion in commercial and industrial construction, which he said would shift some of the tax burden from homeowners to businesses and provide new revenue for schools, libraries, parks, police officers and firefighters.
In 1975, the county board underwent a political sea change: Herrity was elected chairman and Moore inherited his role as naysayer. Suddenly Herrity had the chance to practice what he preached.
With the backing of a new majority, Herrity launched Fairfax on a multimillion-dollar economic development program designed to attract leading corporations to the county. Two-page advertisements were placed in The Wall Street Journal extolling the county's virtues as a corporate headquarters, and county officials, including Herrity, traveled across the country to court industrial America.
The program established Fairfax's reputation as one of the East Coast's premier corporate locales. It also cemented Herrity's reputation as a firm friend of the land development and business communities.
Moore also supported the county's economic development program, but she did not accept the court rulings and legislative prohibitions of the early '70s as the final word on controlling growth.
She believed that growth should be more orderly, that new developments should not overwhelm existing roads, sewers and water supplies, that if the county worked harder, planned better and hired brighter lawyers, it could break the developers' string of victories in court.
Even after judges threw out the county's bid to limit construction by refusing to provide water and sewers, Moore continued to voice opposition to proposals for new roads, rezonings and sewer facilities.
She didn't often get her way, repeatedly voting as a minority of one, refusing to compromise with her colleagues or with the county's influential developers. But Moore did score some victories. Her greatest triumph came in a landmark Circuit Court ruling in 1985 upholding Fairfax's right to place severe restrictions on development in the county's rural western quadrant, an area larger than the District of Columbia.
On road construction, Herrity's persistence was widely credited with moving proposals toward completion. Moore gave lukewarm support to a number of projects, arguing on occasion that new roads would spur development, creating more problems than they would solve.
What follows is an overview of the candidates' records on a number of major issues:
I-66: In his first term on the board, Herrity voted for the construction of a six-lane I-66 between the Capital Beltway and the Potomac River. At the time, I-66 extended no farther east than the Beltway. In 1975, a majority of the board, including Moore, opposed the idea and voted against endorsing the extension of the interstate -- a move then popular with citizens groups.
A year later, however, she voted for a compromise proposal to build a four-lane I-66 inside the Beltway. Herrity also voted for the compromise.
Dulles Toll Road: In a series of votes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Herrity consistently supported construction of the Dulles Toll Road, an expressway paralleling the Dulles Airport Access Road, which is restricted mostly to airport-bound vehicles. The toll road links the rapidly expanding Reston-Herndon-Dulles area with the Beltway and has been carrying capacity traffic loads from the day it opened in 1984.
Moore voted for the toll road more often than not. However, she cast three nay votes: against endorsing the concept of the road, in 1979; against allocating $5 million in county funds for construction, which she considered a state responsibility, in 1982; and against a $1.5 million design contract, in 1982. Moore said recently that the 1979 vote against the concept of the road was a "mistake."
Springfield bypass: Herrity, who represented the Springfield District in southwestern Fairfax when he was first elected to the county board, for a decade has been the board's strongest proponent of the cross-county bypass, consistently voting for it, speaking for it and trying to keep it at the top of the county's agenda.
The completed bypass would curve 35 miles through the county, generally parallel to the Beltway, and would connect Rte. 7 in the north with Rte. 1 in the south.
Moore voted for a bond referendum in 1985 that included major funding for the bypass and she backed a citizens task force in 1981 that recommended an alignment for the road. But when state highway officials insisted on a different alignment -- one opposed by county planners but reluctantly accepted by seven of the nine board members, including Herrity -- Moore voted nay. She called the route a sellout to two developers in western Fairfax who would get an intersection on their land, and said the road would bring too much development to western Fairfax.
She also irked some of her colleagues by questioning the need for the bypass, suggesting funds should instead be channeled to improving existing highways such as Rte. 7, Rte. 50, Rte. 236 and Braddock and Keene Mills roads. Moore has consistently pushed for improvements to Braddock Road, a major thoroughfare in her Annandale District.
Rte. 28: Herrity was instrumental in pushing for state legislation that would allow major landowners along the Rte. 28 corridor, which skirts Dulles International Airport to the east, to pay a special surtax for widening the two-lane road. The General Assembly this year passed a bill allowing the surtax, which will be the first of its kind in Virginia.
Moore voted not to endorse the surtax last year because of financial projections showing that sizable taxpayer subsidies would be necessary for at least a decade before the entire burden was shifted to developers and landowners near Rte. 28. Early this year, she appeared to change her position by endorsing the proposal when new projections showed a smaller public subsidy would be required.
Monticello Freeway and Northern Virginia Expressway: Plans for these two roads, which would have crisscrossed Fairfax like a gigantic X, were scrapped by the board in the mid-1970s. Both Herrity and Moore voted to delete them from county plans. Both were opposed by neighborhood groups in the roads' paths.
Metro: Generally, Moore has been an advocate of the Metro rail system, expanded bus service and a commuter rail system.
Herrity, on the other hand, criticized the subway as being irrelevant to Fairfax County residents and voted against proposals to raise taxes for Metro. In recent years, however, he has talked about the necessity of finishing the Metro lines into Fairfax County and advocated a county-operated bus system to supplant Metrobuses, which he continually criticizes as poorly managed.
Both Herrity and Moore have voted in favor of a large majority of routine rezonings and development proposals. However, on many of the largest and most controversial projects, they have diverged, with Herrity siding with developers and Moore voting nay.Westfields: One of the largest office parks under construction in Washington's suburbs, the $2 billion Westfields project near Dulles Airport is projected to attract some 30,000 workers by the year 2000. The 1,048-acre site, straddling Rte. 28, could one day include 20 million square feet of office space -- the equivalent of several Pentagons.
In November 1985, the board voted 5 to 1 for the rezoning necessary for the project to go forward. Herrity voted with the majority, which noted that the site was already zoned for industrial development.
Moore was the lone dissenter, arguing that Westfields would overwhelm the road system in the area, particularly Rte. 28. She said she favored gradual development of the area to give officials time to find funds for road improvements.
Tysons II: Another massive commercial development under construction in Fairfax, Tysons II is expected to be worth more than $500 million when completed by the end of the century. It is the largest single development under way at Tysons Corner and includes 12 office towers, two hotels and several big-name department stores on 107 acres.
In a 1984 vote, the board approved the rezoning for the project on a 7-to-1 vote, with Herrity in the majority and Moore opposed. Most board members, including Herrity, were satisfied with the developers' assurances that they planned to pump $14 million in road improvements into the area.
Moore said the project would bring a "traffic disaster," adding: "This is too big a zoning to happen so quickly."
Fair Oaks Mall area: The board voted 8 to 1 in 1982 to increase substantially the amount of development planned for 5,300 acres of prime land at I-66 and Rte. 50 near the mall. Moore was the single opponent.
Herrity and the board majority backed the change, which they said would bring an "urban village" of high-technology office parks, shops, county government offices and thousands of homes to the area. The land is now the site of the Hazel/Peterson Cos.' Fair Lakes office project.
Moore, voicing concerns about transportation and land-use issues, voted against the proposal after most of about 20 motions she introduced to tighten control over the development were rejected by the board.
Occoquan Basin: Perhaps the most significant land-use case in recent county history concerned the Occoquan Basin. Ultimately, in 1985, a Fairfax Circuit judge upheld the board's right to place severe restrictions on development in the largely rural western quadrant of the county. The county board's victory in the case surprised local developers and zoning attorneys, who had assumed that the rights of property owners would triumph as usual in Virginia's courts.
Moore led the fight for the development restrictions and closely monitored the 48-day trial, urging the county to put its best attorneys on the case. Herrity also supported the restrictions, which limit development to no more than one house per five acres and protect an important reservoir.
New office construction: A year ago, county planners pressed the board to adopt new regulations that would severely restrict the amount of office construction permitted on 10,000 acres zoned for industrial use.
The proposal, adamantly opposed by developers and business leaders, was designed to slow the pace of development until transportation improvements were under way. After several months of often heated debate, the board defeated the plan, 5 to 4. Herrity opposed the proposal; Moore supported it.
Construction standards: For more than a decade Moore urged stricter requirements for builders and building inspectors. She has introduced numerous proposals, some of which were enacted, to compel developers to build more public improvements, such as sidewalks, gutters and streets, and to complete the ones they started. Although Herrity occasionally questioned the requirements, he generally supported them.
In 1981, Moore sponsored a measure to increase the size of the bonds developers had to post to guarantee that they would finish streets, sewers and other public improvements. Herrity argued that such a regulation would shut down residential construction, stunt the county's growth and "put a lot of people out of work." Nonetheless, when he was unable to persuade the board to postpone final action, he voted for the tougher requirements.
However, that regulation proved inadequate and hundreds of developers defaulted on their commitments to build public facilities. In 1984 the county spent millions of tax dollars to finish uncompleted streets and sewers and the county board voted yet another regulation to prevent developers from walking away. Despite her longstanding advocacy of such requirements, Moore cast the lone nay vote, arguing that the new rules did not go far enough.
Ethics and Open Government
Moore has consistently attempted to toughen ethical standards for public officials. She led a fight last year to restrict county officials from moving to the private sector and dealing with the same issues they handled as public employes. Herrity, after first deriding a "hysterical rush into the issue," voted for the "revolving-door" legislation, which prohibits former county officials from lobbying on the projects they handled before they left the county.
Moore also pushed for other ethics proposals. In 1975, she persuaded the board to adopt a nonbinding policy to refuse campaign contributions from developers, landowners or others who stand to profit from rezonings.
In 1980 she urged the county to hire a permanent government ethics officer and require supervisors to disclose financial liabilities or gifts. The proposal failed.
Herrity fought all those measures, opposing tougher disclosure rules, casting the sole vote against Moore's motion to impose voluntary restrictions on campaign contributions from developers and voting against funding for a county ethics officer.
Neither Herrity nor Moore has been an advocate of housing projects for low- and moderate-income people. Although Herrity has been the more vociferous opponent, both have voted against or reluctantly accepted affordable housing over the years.
The shortage of such housing is now frequently mentioned as one of Fairfax's major problems, but most board members still find it politically unpalatable to push low-cost projects in their districts.
Equal Rights Amendment: Herrity opposed a board resolution backing the ERA; Moore supported it.
Human rights: Herrity voted against a proposal to allocate funds for a new county human rights commission in 1974; Moore supported the commission, which was created. Herrity voted against the county's affirmative action hiring program; Moore backed the plan.
Seat belts: Herrity voted against a proposal, sponsored by Moore, to require drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. The proposal was adopted.
No smoking in restaurants: Herrity voted against an ordinance mandating no-smoking sections in large restaurants; Moore supported it.
Day care: Both Herrity and Moore have been generally supportive of day care in recent years. However, Herrity voted against federal funding for an experimental program to monitor latchkey children; Moore supported it, along with a majority of the board.
Aid to Ethiopia: Moore voted for a proposal to send $100,000 in county funds to help the starving in Ethiopia; Herrity opposed it. The proposal failed.