It's a Saturday morning ritual in some parts of Fairfax County: Station wagons adorned with "Go 'Skins" and "Love Your Horse" bumper stickers and packed with bulging trash bags head for the dump.
And there yesterday to greet them were Audrey Moore and John F. Herrity, hot political foes engaged in a volatile fight for the chairmanship of the county's Board of Supervisors.
Moore, a Democrat who will leave her post as Annandale supervisor, visited the dump in Oakton. Republican and incumbent chairman Herrity dropped by one in Great Falls.
"Oh man," said Moore, when she learned where her opponent was. "Great Falls is great. I mean, great. I was there last week for a couple of hours."
Asked Herrity, "She was where? Oakton?"
They trailed each other for the remainder of the day, both hitting the Herndon parade, the Lake Anne Condo Association, the Woodson High School band competition and other stops on a campaign that has grown hectic as the Nov. 3 election approaches.
Moore reached the Oakton dump at the same time waitresses across the street at Friendly's were serving up french toast and sausage -- early. She brought leather gloves to help dump-goers lift garbage from their cars -- in the event they wanted help from a 58-year-old woman in pink-tinted reading glasses. "Need any help?" she asked.
Oakton is known as a generally strong Republican area, although a wave of new residents and potential ticket-splitters has moved into local town house developments. Republicans need this area to win, according to Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican representing the Mason District.
Most of the dump-goers indicated they were antidevelopment and perceived Moore as their savior because of her insistence on stemming growth in the county. A recent Washington Post poll found that three-quarters of the county voters want to slow development; 42 percent say the cause of the county's traffic headaches is overdevelopment.
"I can't believe I'm seeing Audrey Moore," said a man in a beret and a windbreaker, climbing out of a Caprice Classic to shake her hand.
"You already got my money, honey," called a woman.
"High time we did something to control growth in this county," echoed Fred Beattie, 65, retired from the State Department, now managing a Crown Books store.
Said a delighted Moore: "This is going great. Great. I'm getting a good response."
Herrity, according to his son and campaign manager, Tom, was delayed in his visit to the dump behind the Great Falls Elementary School. Early in the day, the dump truck operators said they hadn't seen him and neither had any of the citizens who were stuffing tree branches and empty fertilizer bags into a huge yellow trash compactor.
They knew of Herrity, of course. Great Falls, with its white pasture fences and comfortable houses, traditionally votes Republican. Though a number of his blue campaign posters were in the neighborhood, there is also a large antidevelopment groundswell.
Herrity said later that he had gotten a fine reception at the dump when he arrived. He said he worked it for 45 minutes before racing off to the Elks Lodge, the Herndon parade, the condo association, a pig roast, an open house, photos at home with his wife, a high school trophy presentation.
"This is a small town," he said. "Have you ever heard of the old saying, 'All politics is local, and all local politics is neighborhood politics'?"
To date, Herrity has raised about $400,000 in campaign contributions, as opposed to Moore's $270,000. "Why should I be replaced when the county is in outstanding prosperity, has the highest level of services of any county in the country, when the tax rate is down by 22 percent since I took office as chairman?" he has asked.
Although Herrity is facing the toughest political fight of his career, a recent Washington Post poll showed that he has gained ground rapidly in recent weeks.
In a poll taken last month, Moore was ahead of Herrity by a substantial margin.
Countywide in the latest poll, Moore held a seven-percentage-point lead among those who say they are likely to vote, with 47 percent favoring her, 40 percent favoring Herrity and 13 percent undecided or supporting another candidate.