RICHMOND -- A week ago, L. Douglas Wilder made his third public appearance as governor in Fairfax County, which with 800,000 people is twice the size of any other city or county in Virginia.

That's one less visit than Wilder made to Los Angeles in his first nine months in office. And it's one less trip than he made to New York City too.

Northern Virginia gave Democrat Wilder his narrow margin of victory over Republican J. Marshall Coleman in last year's election. But as politicians, academics and local officials say Northern Virginians are learning, votes do not necessarily buy a governor's time or attention to favorite local issues such as education.

"The 1989 election turned out to be a wash for Northern Virginia," said Mark J. Rozell, a political scientist at Mary Washington College and a Fairfax County resident. "I think it is a betrayal to a certain extent . . . . He clearly owes his election to the vote in Northern Virginia {but} he's shown no interest."

Wilder and his aides say the state budget squeeze, a cooling economy and his no-new-taxes pledge mean that expensive initiatives appealing to Northern Virginia -- like those promoted by his predecessors, fellow Democrats Gerald L. Baliles and Charles S. Robb -- are not likely.

In a recent interview, Wilder said people who expected last fall's election results would mean favored treatment for Northern Virginia were nursing false hopes. "A governor has to be fair and equitable with respect to all areas of the state," he said.

But Wilder critics say Northern Virginians clearly expected more.

"If voters knew last November what they know now, would he be elected governor?" asked Fairfax County Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III, a Mason District Republican. "I think the answer is no."

Few issues are of more concern in Washington's Virginia suburbs than education, and Wilder's budget cuts to make up for a $1.4 billion revenue shortfall already have hit hard at George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College. Education has been targeted for cuts of $238 million statewide, making it the largest single victim of Wilder's budget ax so far.

The worst may be yet to come, because the governor also has suggested that wealthy areas such as Northern Virginia will bear a disproportionate burden in the as-yet undetailed plan to slash state aid to public education by more than $130 million next year.

The other key issue in Northern Virginia is transportation, and there local officials say the Wilder record is mixed. They hailed the appointment of one of their own, former Arlington County Board member John G. Milliken, as transportation secretary. Milliken and Wilder pushed the state transportation board to release surplus funds to extend the Dulles Toll Road to Leesburg. Wilder also built support for the new commuter rail connecting the District with Fredericksburg and Manassas.

But what Wilder gives for transportation with one hand, local officials said, he seems to take away with the other. The governor said he will ask the General Assembly to eliminate a program that would have returned about $20 million annually in real estate filing fees to Northern Virginia that local governments had planned to spend on roads. Area legislators say they will fight the proposal.

What Wilder has not done also suggest what his priorities are.

For example, a group of mayors and county board chairmen from Northern Virginia's largest localities say privately that they have been trying for months -- unsuccessfully -- to schedule a meeting with the governor to talk about transportation.

That's a marked change from Baliles' approach. During his first year in office, he spent a week working in Northern Virginia, the time devoted largely to transportation. Soon after, he called a special session of the General Assembly, which passed an increase in the sales tax that brought in about $450 million annually in new money for roads.

"As far as this administration is concerned, Northern Virginia might as well not exist," said Coleman, now in private law practice in McLean. "The irony of ironies is that this is where he won it."

Wilder won the governor's office by just 6,800 votes out of 2.7 million cast. But, in Northern Virginia's 8th and 10th Congressional Districts -- where both candidates campaigned heavily -- Wilder won by significant margins.

Rozell credits Wilder's Northern Virginia victory principally to his strong support of abortion rights. But, he notes, Wilder often praised Robb and Baliles and vowed to continue their "legacy," which included an emphasis on Northern Virginia.

Area voters, Rozell said, reasonably concluded that Wilder supported the Robb-Baliles vision of government expanding to solve problems in the state's high-growth crescent between Washington and Tidewater.

Instead, Wilder's approach has been remarkably similar to that of the conservative politicians who ran Virginia for much of this century, his critics say. Wilder recently vowed to "permanently reduce" the size of government.

"The question to ask yourself is if {conservative hero} Harry Byrd were in the governor's office, what would he be doing differently than Governor Wilder is doing today," said G.C. Morse, a former aide to Baliles, who believes Wilder's no-new-taxes pledge is "shortsighted."

By not giving more attention to the state's suburban areas, Morse said, Wilder is threatening to stall the economic growth and larger tax base that has benefited the entire state. "It's killing the goose that laid the golden egg," he said.

Northern Virginia educators are worried that far from showing them any favor, Wilder's cuts may hit them harder than educators in other areas of the state.

A recent report by Fairfax County School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane said Wilder's cuts in state aid this year are "not equitable" because his district has 13 percent of the state's students but sustained almost 25 percent of the statewide cuts.

This year's public school cuts were offset by a new policy lowering the contribution that local school systems must make to the state pension fund.

Wilder has not yet detailed how next year's far bigger education cuts will be distributed, but he said he will parcel them out in a way that does not worsen inequalities between the state's richest and poorest districts.

Prince William County schools chief Edward Kelly said he is worried that this means that Wilder expects Northern Virginia districts -- more affluent but struggling with large growth -- to bear a disproportionate share of his cuts.

Some local officials said they are waiting until Wilder gets more specific on his plans for school aid and other programs before passing judgment.

"I haven't been pleased with all I've heard, but I'd be hard pressed to say I've been dealt with unfairly," said Prince William Supervisor Edwin C. King (D-Dumfries). "There has been some indication that we've not been dealt with the deference that we sometimes were under Robb and Baliles. The jury is still out on how Northern Virginia is going to fare."