The five members of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors who will take office in January were singing from the same slow-growth choir book on election night.
In interviews, each of the newly elected and reelected members predicted an era of comity in local politics that has not been seen in recent memory, with the supervisors sharing a vision of slow residential growth and the tidiest types of commercial and industrial development.
"There will be an enthusiasm and an integrity to Fauquier politics that you've not seen before," predicted J.B. "Joe" Winkelmann (R-Center), who won election to his first full term on the board by trouncing challenger Richard M. Galecki (D), with 66 percent to 34 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.
Already there is much on which the supervisors, and supervisors-elect, agree. For instance, they agree that Supervisor Larry L. Weeks (R-Scott) should remain in his post as board chairman, that a new protocol for dealing with the School Board should be created to sweeten sour relations and that a potential new power plant for the southern part of the county should be opposed.
But one outgoing supervisor, David C. Mangum (R-Lee), warned the next board that campaigning and governing are two different things and that political promises made this year--such as no new taxes--will become heavier burdens in office.
"Several of the new supervisors made some rash statements during the campaigns that they will need to live with," Mangum said at the Fauquier County Republican Party's celebration of its sweep of every race in which a Republican ran.
Mangum was once part of a majority that approved several developments, including a Virginia Power plant under construction in Remington, that some of the new candidates eschew. The balance of power shifted when Winkelmann won his seat in a special election last year. Now, all five members of the board appear to favor the strictest regulations to slow residential growth, which stands at an estimated 1 percent annually.
In addition to keeping campaign promises, the next Board of Supervisors also will have to work out some time-sensitive issues that appear to leave much room for disagreement.
One intriguing point of emerging tension is how much of the old board's legacy the new supervisors want to revisit--starting with the proposed transformation of Route 28 in the southern end of the county from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway.
Local environmental groups fought the widening as an invitation to development in that area. But the change was approved by the two previous boards, and the Virginia Department of Transportation already has spent money on the project, which is included in long-term budgets, and design work is proceeding.
Weeks, who was unopposed for reelection to his second term, said, "I hope we don't revisit history. . . . We should worry about the future."
But the other winners--Winkelmann, Sharon Grove McCamy, Raymond E. Graham and, to a lesser extent, H.F. "Harry" Atherton III--expressed interest Tuesday evening in seeing the widening derailed.
"It will be a fundamental change," Winkelmann predicted.
McCamy, a Republican and former writing instructor at Mary Washington College, beat independent challenger William R. "Bill" Frazier, a retired civilian Navy administrator, 69 percent to 31 percent, to represent the Lee District.
Graham, a Republican and retired Fairfax County administrator, ran unopposed to succeed retiring three-term Supervisor Wilbur W. Burton (D-Cedar Run). Atherton, a farmer and an independent, defeated another independent, orchard owner Traci M. Guynup Stribling, 74 percent to 26 percent, to fill the seat being vacated by five-term Supervisor James R. Green Jr. (I-Marshall).
Another issue in which the new supervisors diverge is the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail station that Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) has proposed for Bealeton. Gilmore has proposed waiving the first two years of operating expenses, as well as using state funds to pay for the construction of the rail station, which would extend existing service from Manassas.
The catch is that there have been no credible alternatives proposed for funding the future operating expenses beyond a gas tax that is a requirement for joining one of the two regional transportation authorities that run the commuter rail line.
"I've gone door-to-door in the district, and the margin of about 2 to 1 in favor of VRE is correct. But people are worried how to pay for it. No one wants to use new taxes," McCamy said.
Atherton said he opposes the rail station. Graham said that "VRE sounds like a good idea" but that other priorities, such as funding local volunteer fire and rescue companies and getting schoolchildren out of trailers, should come first.
With the retirement of Mangum, Burton and Green, the board is losing 40 years of experience. Incumbents Weeks and Winkelmann lend a total of five years' experience to the three newcomers.
Atherton, who has served 19 years on the Planning Commission, including his recent stint as its chairman, said he anticipates even greater residential growth pressures in coming years than were faced by previous boards because of pent-up demand for real estate in Fauquier.
"I hope that we are all fast learners, quick studies," he said.