For the second straight year, Arlingtonvoters are deciding whether a coalition of County Board members supported by the Democratic party and the nonpartisan Arlingtonians for a Better County should continue to run the county government.
Board member Ellen Bozman, one of the three memebers of the current governing majority on the five-memebr governing majority on the five-member board, is being challenge for a new four-year term by two independents, Sherman W. Pratt and Arthur C. Vogel, who say the Board is unresponsive to its constituents, particularly conservatives.
Board members supported by the county Democratic Party and the politically successful Arlingtonians for a Better County's governing body since 1970.
ABC-supported board member John W. Purdy won re-election last year. Purdy, Bozman and board chairman Joseph S. Wholey comprise largely of federal employees who are barred by the Hatch Act from working in the campaigns of Democrats or Republicans.
If Pratt or Vogel wins the Nov. 8 election, he could help from a new governing coalition with the two conservative incumbents, Dorthy T. Grotos and Walter L. Frankland Jr. The ABC-supported Board coalition often passes legislation by 3-to-2 votes over Grotos' and Frankland's opposition.
Supporters of the Board majority contend that it is a model of good government in action.
But Pratt, 55, a Federal Communications Commission attorney, and Vogel, 64, a retired U.S. Information Agency division chief, have attacked the Board's decisions on schools, Metro construction and the urbanization of Arlington.
Vogel, who is making his first bid for public office, often says that he differs less with the Board's ultimate decisions than with the way those decisions have been made.
Bozman, 52, stresses her role in prociding Arlingtonians with what she says is a wide spectrum of "adequate and accessible" services, including programs for the elderly, children of working parents and teh county's $2 million share of federal community development grants. These funds will be used to improve older residential neighborhoods which Bozman calls "our greatest strength.
"The whole thing is being argued on continuing Arlington as the kind of community it is now," she said in an interview. They're (Pratt and Vogel) both saying that they would do it differently,"
Unlike her oponents, Bozman supports the present School Board and Supt. Larry Cuban and says that the issue surrounding the schools is one of adequate funding in the wake of the countywide budget cuts over the past two years.
According to Vogel, steadily declining enrollments reflect a decline in public confidence in the county school system rather than demographic shifts that have resulted in a general population decline. The solutions, he says is and elected School Board and a new superintendent.
"The present School Board represents a narrow band of experience, (that of) a certain type of houswife from a certain part of North Arlington," Vogel said in a interview.
While Vogel said he wasn't necessarily against last summer's decision to close two junior high schools, a decicion that was opposed in various parts of the county. Vogel said the opposed the "abruptness with which (the school board) did it without consulting parents."
Part like Vogel, scores the multiple educational appraches institutued by Cuban. The possible establishment next year of an alternative traditional school where a more conservative educational philosophy and methodology would prevail is "too little, too late" in Pratt's view.
Pratt advocates a wholesale return to traditional education for all county schools, with one set aside for gifted students.
The Metro subway has been used as an excuse for overbuilding and high density development in Arlington, according to Vogel. "We're entering blindly into an urban situation without being fully prepared for it," he said, citing what he calls "rampant land speculation" that will probably turn Clarendon into another Rosslyn.
Pratt is fond of mentioning the fact that he lives "three houses away from the 1.95 mixing bowl" and is the only candidate from South Arlington. He says the area is tradionally ignored by Board members like Bozman who live in North Arlington. He cites the development of Rossyln and Crystal City as examples of "the incredible blundering of the ABC-establishment" and wasteful management.
Pratt, who is endorsed by the county Republican party, is making his second Board race. he finished a distant third to Bozman four years ago.
Bozman, who is seeking her second term, denied the possibility that Clarendon will become as dense as Rosslyn. "If (my opponents) would look at the land-use plan we adopted last year they'll see it can't happen," she said.
All three candidates have said they expect to win but say that the race will be close. Bozman extimates that she has spent about $10,000 on her campaign, while Pratt says he has spent about $6,000 and Vogel about $1,000.
Arlington Board members who serve part-time will be paid $9,000 starting in January, up from the current $6,000. The Board chairman, who is elected annually by the board, will be paid $10,000, up from $8,000.