The race in the 41st House District pits one of the General Assembly's senior Republican lawmakers against an aggressive Democratic challenger who says it's time for a change.

Republican Del. James H. "Jim" Dillard II, 65, a retired Fairfax County teacher and administrator, has made his mark in the state legislature on education and environmental issues, and his 26 years of seniority give him a lead role in budget negotiations.

But Democrat Eileen R. Filler-Corn, 35, a lawyer and community activist, has knocked on thousands of doors throughout the district to convince voters that she's more in touch on such issues as transportation and school safety.

Both candidates favor abortion rights, better funding of public schools and heavy new spending to ease traffic congestion in Northern Virginia. This hotly contested race has focused on a General Assembly vote that Dillard said he regrets.

The vote came on a bill to give school officials everywhere in the state the power to expel students who bring guns to school. Dillard supported that effort, but he also voted for an amendment proposed by Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) that exempted hunters who lock their guns in their cars in school parking lots.

Dillard has since called that vote an error made during a period of widespread confusion about the meaning of Gilmore's amendment. Later that same day, Dillard and several other lawmakers switched their votes, killing Gilmore's amendment.

Filler-Corn has campaigned hard on the issue, calling for "zero tolerance for guns in schools" and alleging that Dillard is cozy with the gun lobby.

"He says he was confused. I find that hard to believe," Filler-Corn said. "And if he was confused, I'm concerned with that, too."

Dillard has angrily disputed Filler-Corn's characterization of his vote, calling it "a total and absolute distortion of the facts."

"I think it's unfortunate . . . that she's trying to blatantly distort my record, but of course she has no record," Dillard said. "To say that I'm for guns in schools is just not right."

Dillard is married and has four grown daughters. If reelected, he plans to continue fine-tuning the Standards of Learning tests and use his position on the Appropriations Committee to fight for school funding and environmental programs. He is co-chairman of the House Education Committee and chairman of a key natural resources subcommittee.

"I'll ensure that we're properly funding the programs to clean up the bay," he said.

Filler-Corn, who has two young children, is president of the board of a preschool and said she more closely resembles the young parents who make up much of the 41st District than does Dillard. She left her part-time job in a law firm to campaign.

"I'm determined to make a difference," she said.

She also favors giving patients the power to sue their health insurance companies for negligence.

During the 1999 session, Dillard voted against a Democratic package called the patients' bill of rights, choosing instead to back a Republican package that did not give patients the power to sue their health insurers. Dillard argued that a flood of lawsuits would force health insurers to raise premiums beyond the means of some small businesses and their employees.

DISTRICT 41: House of Delegates

James H. 'Jim' Dillard II (R)*

Age: 65.

Residence: Fairfax.

Education: BA, College of William and Mary; MA, American University.

Occupation: Retired Fairfax County teacher and administrator.

Elected offices/civic activities: Board member, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; advisory board member, Turn Off the Violence Coalition of Northern Virginia; chairman and former president, Northern Virginia Mediation Services; member, Burke Historical Society; usher and lay reader, Church of the Good Shepherd, Burke.

Family: Married; four children; four grandchildren.

Why should the voters elect you?

"I have a record of accomplishments in education, environment and consumer affairs, such as standards of quality in schools, soil erosion legislation and creation of small claims courts. Key positions of power: co-chairman of Education Committee; member, Appropriations and Budget Conference committees; and chairman, Subcommittee on Natural Resources. Recognized as one of the most effective legislators, I have received awards from the following organizations in the last two years: Virginia Education Association; Virginia State PTA; State Reading Association; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and the Audubon Society. I have been responsive to constituents with a full-time office to serve them. I have a reputation for being tenacious in pursuit of legislative goals."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I am an experienced, dedicated, hard-working legislative leader known for integrity and fighting for my constituents and my beliefs. A can-do attitude gets results."

Web site: www.gopmajority.com

E-mail address: jdillard@sytex.net

Eileen R. Filler-Corn (D)

Age: 35.

Residence: Springfield.

Education: BA, Ithaca College; JD, American University Washington College of Law.

Occupation: Part-time attorney in private practice.

Elected offices/civic activities: Member, Fairfax County Childcare Advisory Council; board member, Whisperwood Homeowners Association; president, Adat Reyim Preschool Board; volunteer, Ronald McDonald House; volunteer, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Family: Married; two children.

Why should the voters elect you?

"I will offer in-touch and responsive leadership. I understand the challenges that we face in Northern Virginia: traffic congestion, overcrowded classrooms and school safety. I am an advocate for safer schools, smaller classroom sizes and increased accountability of students in our school systems. I will fight to eliminate guns from our schools and promote stronger gun safety laws. We deserve the right to choose our own doctors from within our own health insurance plans. I will press, today, for better planning and proactive solutions to the traffic and gridlock which choke our lives, while improving public transit."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I am a working wife and mother of two small children. I have been knocking on 50 to 100 constituent doors every night since May."

Web site: www.eileenfordelegate.org

E-mail address: EFCin1999@aol.com