With another year coming to an end, the season just wouldn't seem right if members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors didn't mark the occasion with another round of backstage dealing over whom to select as their new chairman.
This year's politicking was a pale imitation of the catty -- and sometimes rather ruthless -- scheming that has marked the chairmanship selections in the past, according to participants, who insisted they not be identified by name.
Nonetheless, at least two people were yearning for the top job on the seven-member board: Democrats Kathleen K. Seefeldt of Occoquan and John D. Jenkins of Neabsco.
At last month's annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Counties at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va., Seefeldt and Jenkins crafted a compromise, according to those familiar with the negotiations. Seefeldt, who reportedly had the support of at least four board members, likely will be named chairman when the new board takes office next month, with Jenkins serving as vice chairman.
Some supervisors say the board likely will continue its recent custom of switching the chairmanship from one year to the next.
The congenial resolution worked out in Hot Springs is in contrast to spirited jostling for the chairmanship in the past. In 1984, Seefeldt was dumped after serving six years as chairman by board members who chafed under what they described as her imperious leadership style.
Her successor, Coles Supervisor G. Richard Pfitzner, stepped down after a tumultuous year as chairman, outraging some fellow Democrats when he tried to position Woodbridge Supervisor Donald E. Kidwell, a Republican, as his successor. Instead, Democrat Edwin C. King of Dumfries served a year as chairman before handing off last year to Democrat Joseph D. Reading of Brentsville District. Pfitzner, Reading and Kidwell are retiring from the board this year.
The board chairman is responsible for running the board's thrice-monthly meetings but has no special voting powers.
Volunteer Betty Limerick was not forgotten last week when Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park unveiled a computer-enhanced 911 system for emergency calls to police and fire and rescue personnel.
In the 1950s, Limerick was a dispatcher for the O.W.L. Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, keeping radio equipment in her home and taking emergency telephone calls.
"To think we used to have a rescue squad car parked at a gas station," said Limerick, 69, who was recognized for her efforts by county rescue officials last week before a demonstration of 911. "I had everything set up in my dining room -- radio and microphone. Everything was volunteers then . . . . We had a station house, but we didn't have the manpower for 24 hours. People had to work. I didn't drive or get out much, so I did my part."
Besides, Limerick said, her late husband Warren was chief of the company and devoted much of his time to helping others. "I said, if you can't beat them, join them," Limerick said.
Land-use policy in a rapidly growing suburban county is important, of course, but it's hardly a subject that inspires people to sing. Cynthia Snyder is an exception.
It was Snyder's voice at the Prince William County government center last week belting out the lyrics to "Stand By Your Plan," a less-than-smash-hit single sung to the tune of country music star Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."
The taped song -- an ode to responsible development -- was the musical accompaniment to a slide show at a going-away party for Roger Snyder, Cynthia's husband and former director of the county's Office of Planning.
Roger Snyder recently left local government to become chief executive officer for the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, a politically potent developers lobby. County Executive Robert S. Noe Jr. has named John Schofield, previously deputy director for planning, to succeed Snyder in the planning office, which is often at the center of the county's numerous development controversies.
The Snyders, who live near Manassas, said they worked together on the show, which urges developers and public officials to be faithful to the county's "comprehensive plan" -- a document intended to guide Prince William's long-term growth.