THE RESPONSE in Fairfax County was loud and clear: Audrey Moore's call for a shift of course to slower development and faster transportation struck home -- big. In every corner of the county, the voters connected with Mrs. Moore's view that too much is being done too fast and too carelessly in their county, that the "liveability" they cherish is being ruined in pursuit of the developer dollar -- and that getting in, out and around has become a nightmare ordeal.

To underscore these complaints, the residents did some sophisticated weeding of overgrowth advocates on their board of supervisors, removing not only the incumbent chairman but also two other disciples of the gospel of gridlock. The result should be a vastly improved governing body, with additional able and experienced members pledged to good sense, moderation and foresight. Though the chairman holds no special powers on this board, Mrs. Moore emerges as the leading figure in this significant shift of direction.

Mrs. Moore said repeatedly during the campaign that she is neither antigrowth nor antihighway, and that she is not a mischievous maverick. In her victory speech, she again pledged to cooperate with developers and other business leaders as well as those who supported her all along in addressing expansion and building roads. Business should respect that pledge and reciprocate.

There are things to be done -- quickly. There is the matter of a bond referendum, which Mrs. Moore said she would press for "right away." There are proposals for giving more power to county planners and also to the county's transportation office. And there are roads that must be widened and built to let the county breathe freely again.

There is much to appreciate in the legacy of John Herrity's long efforts to improve life in Fairfax County. The responsibility of building on that, and of undoing the excesses that have accompanied prosperity, now falls to Mrs. Moore and the rejuvenated board.