In many ways, the battle over the direction of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors was decided in a special election last year.

In that election, Republican J.B. "Joe" Winkelmann defeated James A. Rankin in the Center District and swung the majority of the five-member board toward tighter restrictions on residential development than had been favored by the previous majority.

Now, in the three contested races for the board to be decided Tuesday, the question raised by the candidates is not whether to employ checks on the kinds of large-scale developments approved in recent years--such as the Waterfield residential project in New Baltimore, still in limbo over financing--but how aggressively to pursue those limits.

"I don't think anyone can get elected in Fauquier County by being rhetorically pro-growth anymore," said H.F. "Harry" Atherton III, a 19-year veteran of the Planning Commission. As an independent, he is running against another independent, orchard owner Traci M. Guynup Stribling, for the Marshall District seat. "But I've seen enough elections in this county to know that what you see isn't always what you get."

There are several differences among the candidates--most having to do with what measures they will take to see that their development views are carried out. Other differences involve the still-simmering problem of getting along with the School Board, which has waged a public battle over what it considered low levels of funding in the last budget cycle.

Winkelmann, 52, a Washington lobbyist and co-owner of a travel agency, is being challenged by Richard M. Galecki, 48, a Democrat who used to head the local party and works as a Washington computer consultant. Galecki ran unsuccessfully in 1987 for the Scott District seat.

Winkelmann has been running on his record, which he says has helped "keep Fauquier the way we want it." He cites a budget this year that included pay raises for teachers and sheriff's deputies and a $3.5 million financing package for sports and recreation fields. His pledge to enact a reduction in the real estate tax rate failed to go anywhere after other supervisors refused to back him.

"I did what I set out to do," Winkelmann said.

But Galecki has been critical of Winkelmann for not fully supporting the schools' budget request, which was $900,000 higher than what eventually was approved.

"If you don't give the schools everything they need, supplies and more teachers, that doesn't make much sense," said Galecki, a resident of the Warrenton Lakes subdivision. That proposal would have required the raising of the local real estate tax rate, Winkelmann said. "There's no room for tax-and-spend liberals in Warrenton anymore," Winkelmann said.

In the Lee District race, where Supervisor David C. Mangum (R) is stepping down, Republican Sharon Grove McCamy, an English composition teacher at Mary Washington College, is facing independent William R. "Bill" Frazier.

McCamy, 38, has obliquely highlighted Frazier's age by saying the job would "require vitality." Frazier, 68, a farmer and a retired administrator with the Navy's Department of Oceanography, has highlighted the fact that McCamy would have to split time between teaching and her job as a supervisor. "This is a job that needs to be full time, and I have that time," he said.

Frazier, active in property-rights groups, was an outspoken supporter of the Virginia Power plant now being built in Remington, approved last year over objections from local environmental groups. McCamy said she would have voted against a special exception permit for the plant and would vote against another power plant being considered for the same area.

Both candidates support a proposal to bring Virginia Rail Express commuter train service to Bealeton, though neither has suggested ways to fund it beyond joining a taxing district that would require a surcharge on gasoline sales.

In the Marshall District, the political veteran Atherton, 54, has debated the relative newcomer Stribling, 34, on how to stop large-scale developments of the type that have sprouted up in neighboring Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Stribling, a doctoral candidate in environmental studies at George Mason University, said it should be done by promoting development within the county's nine service districts. "That way you could concentrate it and reduce the loss of rural land," she said.

Atherton said the density of residential development within those districts should be reduced. "If you allow that level [in current land-use plans], we are liable to be overwhelmed," he said.

The two candidates also differ on the commuter rail extension. Atherton is opposed to it because of the new costs to the county "with relatively limited benefits." Stribling favors the service because a gasoline tax could reduce fuel consumption locally and because mass transit could get cars off the road.

Atherton has the backing of outgoing Supervisor James R. Green Jr. (I).

Board Chairman Larry L. Weeks (R-Scott), 58, a New Baltimore resident who is a retired Marine colonel and a retired math teacher, is running unopposed to retain the seat he won in 1995. He has highlighted his "smart growth" positions he has taken since he became chairman after Winkelmann's election last year.

Republican Raymond E. Graham, 53, a retired Fairfax County administrator, is running unopposed to fill the seat being vacated by outgoing Supervisor Wilbur W. Burton (D-Cedar Run).

Graham has said he favors revisiting such long-standing issues as Virginia Department of Transportation plans to turn Route 28 into a four-lane divided highway. Graham and Winkelmann went to the Commonwealth Transportation Board during the summer to alert its members that the next Board of Supervisors may change its mind on a host of development issues.

CAPTION: Fauquier County Election Districts (This graphic was not available)