During the 1988 Virginia legislative session, Fairfax County officials will push for a stronger ethics law and a variety of transportation initiatives, the Board of Supervisors decided yesterday.

The county board's legislative wish list also calls for preserving the county's right to require fire supression systems in buildings higher than 50 feet and giving the county the authority to finance the construction of nursing homes.

With the calendar year coming to a close and the political lives of three supervisors at least temporarily drawing to an end, the board meeting yesterday had a politically charged atmosphere. It was the penultimate meeting for Board Chairman John F. Herrity and Supervisors Nancy K. Falck (R-Dranesville) and T. Farrell Egge (R-Mount Vernon), who lost their reelection bids Nov. 3.

Herrity's desire to leave one last imprint on the board and the county clashed with Chairman-Elect Audrey Moore's attempts to flex her new muscle.

Although it appeared Moore came away the victor, Herrity said after the meeting, "I won three out of four {disputes about matters before the board}. That's not bad for an outgoing chairman."

The most contentious issue of the day was whether to include a Herrity resolution urging that the county's legislative package include a proposal to restructure the Virginia Department of Transportation so that it would be more responsive to the needs of Northern Virginia in general and Fairfax County in particular. The resolution also asked that the Northern Virginia Highway Construction District be given more power to implement road building.

The resolution included four paragraphs criticizing state transportation department and blasting the agency's operations in Culpeper as "unsatisfactory and unresponsive."

At the urging of Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville) and other supervisors who will remain on the board next year, the paragraphs were deleted because they were seen as inflammatory and possibly counterproductive.

With Moore's urging, the board drafted a compromise resolution that asks state officials to attempt to solve the problems administratively or through legislation.

"I want to apologize to my colleagues for telling the truth," Herrity said after the compromise was forged.

Falck joined him. "I can't understand why we're afraid of putting the truth on paper," she said. "{The Transportation Department} has never done a thing for Fairfax County."

The county relies on legislators elected from Fairfax to pursue the items on the county's "wish list" during the 60-day legislative session in Richmond, scheduled to begin Jan. 13. As a matter of courtesy, most of the items on the county's list are offered as legislation; some are enacted, many are not.

One of the highest priorities on the county's list is legislation that would enable the county to adopt financial disclosure laws that are more stringent than state ethics laws. The county previously had this authority, but it was deleted this year when the General Assembly rewrote the state's ethics codes.

The county also is seeking a continuance of a public safety law that allows the county to require fire suppression systems in buildings that are higher than 50 feet. The statute giving the county the authority to require fire suppression systems expires June 30.

Another high priority item, added to the county's list by Falck during yesterday's meeting, is a public facilities ordinance that would permit the county to phase development according to an area's level of public utilities and facilities, such as the availability of water, sewers, schools and roads.

The county also is seeking legislation to permit Fairfax to undertake right-of-way acquisition and the design and construction of roads in the state Transportation Department's Secondary Road Improvement Program, and to be reimbursed by the state for the costs of the projects.