Prince William County showed itself surprisingly receptive to Democratic House candidates and the Davis Ford Road projects in this month's election.

First-time candidate David M. Smith won 47 percent of the vote in the Prince William portion of the 7th Congressional District and 49 percent of the Manassas vote, far better than the 42 percent he won overall.

In the 8th Congressional District, Rep. Stan Parris lost Prince William -- 13,575 votes to 13,859 for Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran Jr. -- for the first time since 1974.

Prince William voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Marshall Coleman last year, and Parris and George Bush in 1988.

"People did not see Stan working as hard as they saw Moran," said Supervisor Edwin C. King, who stood with Moran greeting commuters at the entrance to Montclair earlier this month. "Jim Moran got out and was visible. People saw him campaigning more than they saw Stan."

Supervisor William J. Becker (R-Brentsville) agreed, saying, "Moran was down here and made contact with more people."

Del. John A. Rollison III (R-Woodbridge) said he thought national events turned many local residents against Republicans.

"Government employees were upset and perhaps disgruntled because of the inability of the federal government to come to terms with the budget. They tended to blame that on the Republicans," he said.

In his victory speech, Moran thanked Prince William officials who had campaigned with him, including Supervisors John D. Jenkins and Hilda M. Barg.

Car and van pool drivers, who make up 17 percent of Prince William commuters (the highest proportion in the Washington area), also played a role in Parris's defeat.

Prince William van poolers have been fighting for nearly a year to change a Virginia Department of Transportation decision to allow three-passenger cars to use the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 95. The van poolers, who say the change clogged the lanes and added 45 minutes to their morning drives, want to restore the old rule, requiring a minimum of four people.

The man behind the change was Parris, who used federal highway legislation to mandate the three-person minimum. He carefully reminded everyone of his role with a television commercial that bragged that he had "opened up car pool lanes."

Prince William voters also approved, for only the second time in the county's history, a road bond referendum: $43 million for Davis Ford Road. The county now can go forward with planning the 7.25-mile midcounty highway.

Public Works officials will meet Nov. 20 with the Army Corps of Engineers to submit preliminary plans for the road, said Tom Blaser, chief of transportation management. The Corps must approve all projects in which wetlands are disturbed or destroyed, and the approval process could take up to three months.

The supervisors are expected to approve final engineering plans in September 1991, and construction would begin in spring 1992, Blaser said. Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

Residents of Occoquan Forest decided on Election Day that they are willing to pay higher real estate taxes so they can call Prince William officials when their water goes out.

Residents of the 200-home community voted 232 to 17 to authorize the county to issue $960,000 worth of bonds to buy their community water system from a Chicago-based company. Occoquan Forest residents agreed to pay additional real estate taxes of 18 cents per $100 of assessed value above the standard $1.36 rate to pay off the bond.

Deputy County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said he expects the county to purchase the water system in January.

Opponents of two constitutional amendments that would have allowed state and local governments to issue pledge bonds for road projects without a voter referendum thought they had their work cut out for them in Prince William and Manassas.

The area's state legislative delegation, including Republicans Harry J. Parrish and Rollison, supported the amendments, and supporters were passing out pamphlets extolling the provisions.

Meanwhile, at the Bethel precinct, opponents had hand-painted signs reading "Stop More Deficit. Road Bonds. Vote No."

A very cold Myrna Phelps was stopping people on the way to the polls and pleading with them not to give up "voters' rights."

These {politicians} have such a hard time getting a bond passed, and now they want voters to vote not to have a vote," she said.

Phelps's argument had appeal. More than 70 percent of Prince William area voters pulled the "no" lever.