Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity suggested yesterday that his Democratic opponent, Supervisor Audrey Moore, is "erratic and antibusiness," while Moore charged that Herrity's development policies are going to make traffic so thick that "you have to have an appointment to get on the Beltway."

In a lively joint appearance before the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, an influential business group, Moore, Republican Herrity and two independent candidates clashed over the campaign's dominant issue: how to cope with the county's enormous traffic burden without ruining its economy. Though they agreed on little else, all felt their challengers weren't up to the job.

"This is a man who has had so little regard for the future of this county that he has pushed development when he had no reason to believe the billions {of tax money} needed to pay for it would be there," Moore said of Herrity. "That's incredible. That's not being a leader, that's surrendering the battle before it's begun." Herrity's approach could transform Fairfax into "Los Angeles without the beach," she said.

Herrity charged that Moore has no real ideas on how to improve things. "Every night I go home and say, 'Maybe tomorrow Audrey will tell us how she's going to manage the roads,' " Herrity said. "She hasn't done that yet. We need an experienced and stable leader to lead this county, not someone who I believe would be erratic and antibusiness at the helm."

Herrity said after the debate that Moore has contradicted herself so often that "this campaign has been like trying to chase a snake in the jungle."

But the toughest remarks of the hour-long exchange were provided by the two independents, who have been excluded from many joint appearances during the campaign.

James S. Morris Jr. said, "I'd be ashamed to run on either of their records" and said that Moore's "leadership capabilities are very apparent: none at all."

R. Terry Robarge pointed to Herrity's legal problems -- he has gotten more than a dozen traffic tickets and has been convicted of a misdemeanor violation of a disclosure law -- and charged that he did not deserve to be chairman.

"{Sen.} Bob Dole {R-Kan.} came out here to raise money for {Herrity}. I wonder if he looked at his rap sheet before he came," Robarge said. "People do not trust this Board of Supervisors. It's sad."

After the debate, Herrity charged that Moore had reversed her position on a proposal to increase the county tax on real estate sales. Moore told the debate audience that "I certainly don't advocate an increase in the transfer tax." Herrity said that in an appearance before a construction business group Moore had said she would consider such a tax increase.

Moore acknowledged that she had told the construction group she would consider a higher tax on real estate sales. But immediately after leaving the appearance, she said, she reconsidered her statement and called the group to revise her position.

"I said it at 4 in the afternoon and called back at 4:30," Moore said. "As soon as I began to think about it I realized that I hadn't said what I wanted to. I haven't been advocating an increase in the tax."

Many of the 265 people who attended the Chamber of Commerce debate are associated with the real estate development industry, a group that has traditionally supported Herrity and opposed Moore. But Moore did not soften her call for more growth controls during her remarks.

"I've got a plan {to manage growth}. I've told you about it, and a lot of you probably don't like it," Moore said. "This is something I take no great pleasure in doing, because I don't think the development community caused {traffic problems}. You were just following the policies of the county.

"I think we need {growth control} laws that are as strict as but no stricter than those in the rest of the region. I would hope to bring the business community into the process" of formulating growth policies.

While Herrity questioned Moore's ability to deal with local businesses, he also questioned whether she had been as effective in slowing growth as she claims.

"She's voted to let a lot of people into this county," Herrity said. The county's Annandale District, which Moore represents, "is the most densely populated district in Fairfax. The difference between it and Tysons Corner is that it has no tax base."