A new television commercial on the Fairfax County election is not playing well in New Jersey.

A 30-second ad criticizing Republican County Board Chairman John F. Herrity for inviting so much growth to Fairfax that it amounted to "dropping the entire city of Newark right on top of our neighborhoods," has started the telephones ringing in Newark Mayor Sharpe James' office.

"Why did they choose Newark?" said Pam Goldstein, James' spokeswoman. "They are implying that it is something bad. We have worked so hard to dispel that image."

Goldstein said she was trying to contact Democratic Supervisor Audrey Moore, Herrity's opponent, to ask her to discontinue the commercial because "if anything, Fairfax County should take a lesson from Newark's mixed-use development."

Although she had not seen the ad, Goldstein said several people called her about it saying that it painted Newark "in a bad light."

Moore spokeswoman Janice Spector said there is nothing derogatory about Newark in the commercial, and Toddy Puller, Moore's campaign manager, said when she explained the ad to another of James' aides yesterday, the aide said there was no problem using it.

"Newark was chosen specifically because of its size," explained Spector. "I suggested that they drop my hometown, Cleveland, but it was the wrong size." Newark's population and road traffic are comparable to the population boom and added traffic in Fairfax since Herrity took office in 1971, Spector said.

According to the U.S. Census, Newark has a population of 314,000. Fairfax's population has grown by 200,000 since 1970; it is now 710,000. In addition, the office space, which has generated an enormous amount of traffic, has increased five-fold to 41 million square feet since 1970.

A spokeswoman for Herrity said Republican students from George Mason University called Herrity's campaign and said they had called James, along with New Jersey newspapers, state senators and the governor. Puller said: "I can't believe Herrity people are calling around and trying to stir things up."