Joseph S. Wholey, whose vigorous energy extended beyond his membership on the Arlington County Board to include an influential role in shaping the Washington area's transportation policy, said yesterday that he would not run for reelection this year.
Saying he had decided that "it was time for a change," and that he wanted to "give, more time to God, my family, and my profession," Wholey said he would not only wind up, his second four year term on the County Board but end his Metro Board duties as well.
Wholey became chairman of the Metro board Jan. 12, and also serves as chairman of Metro's revenue and operations of Metro's revenue and operations committee while holding membership on the Metro budget committee.
A senior research staff member at the Urban Institute, Wholey said his duties on the Arlington and Metro Boards had amounted to "two fultime" jobs. With three children to college, Wholey said, he could no longer afford the frequent leaves without pay he had taken from the Institute.
Wholey also said the next six to nine months would "probably" find him in a different job. He said he was exploring several possibilities and had received "inquiries" both from government and academia.
Irving McNayr, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, called Wholey's work on the maze of questions that Metro presented "outstanding in every respect!" While McNayr said Wholey had served on "some of the toughest committees" on the Metro board, his major impact had been "digging into budget details" and the preparation and handling of a practical budget.
Wholey said the money he was able to trim from the ever-expanding Metro budget was one of his greatest satisfactions. "What I was interested in was saving money and still providing service," Wholey said, also the philosophy he put into effect during his tenure on the County Board.
"Ten years ago the budget ran the county and no one ever knew what the whole thing was about," said Marianne Karydes, vice chairman of the County Democratic party, "But if anyone ever mastered it, Joe Wholey did."
According to former General Assembly delegate Ira M. Lechner, a veteran of northern Virginia politics, Wholey "represented a whole new generation of politics and politicians in the area." It is a "post-Korean War" generation, Lechner said, which was shaped by the idealism of the Kennedy years, but which rejected "the New Deal spend-a-lot-of-money-to-get-a-lot-of-results" philosophy.
At the time when people like Joe Wholey cam along, Lechner said, local governing bodies were "largely ceremonial, preoccupied with a lot of zoning stuff and not very much else."
"This stuff really takes a lot out of you," Lechner said. "But I think after a while, you'll see them coming back."
Karydes, on the other hand, while noting now "profoundly grateful" she is for "the job he has done on Metro," sees Wholey's time as come and gone. In the the tightly run coalition of Democrats and Arlingtonian's for A Better County (ABC) organization, which engendered the Arlington Board's present 3-2 majority, Karydes is not one of Wholey's warmest political allies. "I think a new era is on its way anyhow," she said.
Like many of those who were awed by Wholey's intelligence but sometimes irked by his brusque manner, Karydes appreciated Wholey's attempts to "cut the fat out of the budget" but felt sometimes he cut too close to the bone.
But Wholey's superior knowledge of ghe details of just about every facet of the budget, Karydes said, made it hard for those with different points of view to oppose him. "He spent more energy on the budget than most people spend on an average lifetime," she said.