Spicy races for the five-seat Arlington County Board and the Arlington School Board are adding interest to a local ballot Tuesday that will include a majority of uncontested races.

Although five incumbents are running unopposed--for clerk of court, commonwealth's attorney, sheriff, treasurer and commissioner of the revenue--two contested seats on the County Board and one on the School Board have grabbed pre-election headlines.

The County Board race features a rematch of sorts between Republican board member Michael D. Lane and Democrat challenger Charles P. Monroe.

Lane and Monroe went head-to-head in April in a special election to fill the seat of Albert C. Eisenberg, who resigned. With a tiny voter turnout, which both sides agree favors the GOP, Lane beat Monroe by 169 votes.

The two are running again, this time for a four-year term, but are just two of four candidates. Voters may pull the lever for any two at-large candidates, but Monroe and board Chairman Paul F. Ferguson, 34, a fellow Democrat, are casting themselves as running mates. Ferguson is considered to be the more secure incumbent, with a true contest expected between Monroe, 43, and Lane, 48.

Somewhat forgotten in the race, even by her own admission, is Republican Frances M. Finta, 72, a longtime substitute teacher in the county. Finta said she is running mainly to better conditions in Arlington for senior citizens, who have distinct needs that she says go forgotten by a board of younger people. (The age range of the current board runs from 34 to 48.)

In his spring campaign, Lane referred to the County Board as a "Monopoly Board" because it held only Democrats. Again, he is telling voters that they should vote for him to keep both parties represented.

Monroe challenges that notion, calling it simplistic.

"It's a matter of vision," he said at a campaign debate. "It's a matter of trusted leadership. It's a matter of values. It's not a matter of a monopoly board."

Although Lane is the incumbent, he calls himself the underdog because of the county's propensity to vote Democratic. He also calls himself nonideological.

"I will not take a no-tax pledge," he said, by way of example. "My colleagues invent opportunities to try to paint me as a right-wing Republican. I'm a reasoned moderate who looks for the best solution to any problem."

Lane, a self-employed management consultant and former lobbyist on Capitol Hill, believes the current board "shakes down" developers, trying to "extort" as much as possible from them in exchange for special use permits.

"Business is there for the sole reason of being beat up," he said. "I think I'm going to move the board slowly but inexorably toward being a policy board, not a micromanagement board."

As an example, he cited the board's consideration of a complaint that pizza delivery drivers were traffic hazards. The board considered requiring the establishment in question to make deliveries only on bicycle.

"I just sort of pointed out that delivery methods ought to be a business decision," he said.

Lane also said he wants to work more on providing affordable housing in Arlington and for improving retirement benefits for county employees.

Monroe, a lawyer, said he is intent on closing the minority achievement gap in public education and on fostering a better relationship between the School Board and the County Board.

He cites his lifelong Arlington residence and his civic activities, including work on the Arlington Human Rights Commission, the Arlington Housing Corporation and the Board of Zoning Appeals, as reasons to trust his leadership.

Monroe is African American and would be the board's only minority member.

"There are different wants and needs in that community," he said.

Finta says the same about Arlington's senior community. Specifically, she said, the county's efforts to calm traffic by closing certain streets to through traffic and installing speed bumps make travel more difficult. She would work to ease driving within Arlington by reopening some of those streets, such as blocks of Barton, Fillmore and Garfield.

Ferguson points to his record during the last four years on the board and says he has accomplished many of the goals he set forth in 1995. Environmental initiatives are underway, including incentives for developers to construct "green buildings." The Neighborhood Conservation Program is receiving greater funding from the county, public safety has been enhanced and taxes were not raised last year, Ferguson said.

As of the end of August, Ferguson had raised and spent considerably more money than his three opponents. Monroe was in last place in the money category, having raised less than $4,000 and spent less than $2,800.

Voters also will put a new face on the School Board, with the contest for Darlene Mickey's open seat between Sharon E. Davis and David M. "Dave" Foster.

Davis, 48, a congressional staff member, and Foster, 45, a lawyer, are expected to produce one of the closest races for the Arlington School Board in years. Davis has an advantage in the strong Democratic organization behind her, which has never lost a School Board race, but Foster, running as an independent, has been a very active school volunteer and has considerable bipartisan support.

Staff writer Jay Mathews contributed to this report.



Paul F. Ferguson (D)*

Age: 34.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BS, James Madison University; JD, George Mason University Law School.

Occupation: Attorney, Haley Bader & Potts P.L.C.

Elected offices/civic activities: Board member since 1995 (chairman since Feb. 1999); member, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission; member, Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee; former chairman, Arlington County Park and Recreation Commission; former president, Fairlington Citizens Association.

Family: Married; one child.

Why should the voters elect you?

"I have focused on fiscal responsibility, public safety, education, environmental quality and neighborhood quality of life issues. Arlington's tax rates for residents are the lowest in Northern Virginia. This year's budget was balanced without a tax increase. This year Arlington added 12 new police officers for community-based policing. We increased investment in Arlington's outstanding schools over 10 percent in each of the last four budgets. I have initiated environmental initiatives, park acquisitions and pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures. Your vote will allow me to continue working on these issues for Arlington."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I have been a Fairlington resident since 1977. I commute by public transit or bicycle. I have a strong personal commitment to environmental protection, pedestrian safety and protecting neighborhoods."

Web site: www.arlingtondemocrats.org

E-mail address: pferguson@haleybp.com

Frances M. Finta (R)

Age: 72.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BA, Boston University; MEd, George Mason University.

Occupation: Substitute teacher, Arlington County public schools.

Elected offices/civic activities: Treasurer, executive committee member, membership chairman, former chairman, Arlington County Civic Federation; secretary, Arlington County Scholarship Fund for Teachers, Inc.; president, Arlington Republican Women's Club; American Association of University Women; organized women voters of Arlington.

Family: Married; two children.

Why should the voters elect you?

"Arlington is a teeming, bustling city. Transportation, education, senior citizens and public employee retirement are major concerns. Arlington's streets must be kept open to all--motorists, Metro riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. The board provides the money to operate the school system. I have taught in the Arlington schools for 35 years. I can read the school budget from a teacher's perspective. Facilities for seniors have fallen into disrepair. Seniors' driving and pedestrian concerns are different from those of the commuter. Public employee retirement plans need adjustment. I have the experience and the ability needed to be an Arlington County Board member."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"I have lived, traveled and worked in Arlington for 50 years. I know Arlington well. I intend to participate in the planning for Arlington's future."

E-mail address: ffinta@aol.com

Michael D. Lane (R)*

Age: 48.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BA, St. Anselm College.

Occupation: Self-employed management consultant.

Elected offices/civic activities: Member, Arlington County Board; Regional Water Supply Task Force member and Public Safety and Environment Committee vice chairman, Council of Governments; member, Northern Virginia Regional District Planning Commission; president-elect, Arlington Optimists Club.

Family: Single.

Why should the voters elect you?

"I seek reelection to the county board to continue working on issues important to Arlington: improving education for our children, solving traffic problems and promoting neighborhood livability. My work on the board has created a favorable increase in discussion and dialogue as we find the very best solutions to Arlington's challenges. I work with my colleagues to improve responsiveness of local government in our community. My reelection will prevent Arlington from slipping back into a "monopoly board" where discussion of ideas is limited. I will continue to be your "other voice" on the board, so necessary for promoting good government."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"Public service allows me to improve the quality of life for all Arlingtonians. I want Arlington to be the best community in which to live."

Web site:

www.geocities.com/ mikelane99

E-mail address: mikelane@starpower.net

Charles P. Monroe (D)

Age: 43.

Residence: Arlington.

Education: BA, Duke University; JD, Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Occupation: Attorney, Duncan and Hopkins, P.C.

Elected offices/civic activities: Vice chairman, Arlington Board of Zoning Appeals; chair-designate, Committee of Management, Veterans Memorial YMCA; Parent Advisory Committee, Arlington Traditional School; president, Arlington Housing Corporation; chairman, Arlington Human Rights Commission.

Family: Married; two children.

Why should the voters elect you?

"To meet tomorrow's challenges, Arlington must be a learning community, with outstanding public schools and excellent opportunities for lifelong learning; a livable community, with policies that conserve neighborhoods and shape desirable commercial development; and a caring, inclusive community that honors its responsibilities to those in need. I have presented a series of proposals to advance these goals, such as support for in-fill control, increased recreational opportunities and strengthening the nonprofit volunteer sector. A lifelong Arlington resident with extensive experience in community activities, I have the experience to provide the leadership to make the goals a reality."

What would you like voters to know about you?

"Arlington has always been my home. My extensive volunteer and political activities follow one objective: To make Arlington work better for all of its citizens."

Web site: www.arlingtondemocrats.org

E-mail address: monroe26@erols.com