The second of two profiles of the major candidates for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The clock was ticking toward midnight in the Fairfax County government chambers. A winter chill had crept into the room, almost emptying it. Even the reporters had left and were huddling near a space heater down the hall.

It was Jan. 9, 1978, and the other county supervisors had decided it was time to teach Audrey Moore a lesson.

They whispered to each other and then called for a vote.

"Aye," rang out Supervisor Moore, supporting an unpopular but needed measure to increase homeowners' sewer bills. Then, one by one, the eight other board members answered: "abstain," "abstain," "abstain" . . . . In less than a minute, Moore singlehandedly passed a multimillion-dollar rate increase.

Moore's colleagues were tired of her, the agitating Democrat from Annandale. She had admonished them for not passing tougher ethics laws. She had accused them of "selling out" to developers. She was like a picador, always poking at them and trying to wear them down.

But the 1-to-0 vote backfired. Hundreds of outraged residents called the other supervisors and blasted them for cornering Moore. An aphorism of Fairfax politics -- "Everybody hates Audrey Moore but the voters" -- rang true again.

"There seems to be a feeling of comfort in having a gadfly, a devil's advocate, someone to keep things stirred up," said D. Patrick Mullins, who unsuccessfully opposed Moore for her Annandale supervisor's seat in 1979 and who is seeking it again.

This year the gadfly is taking the ultimate risk, that of extinction. Moore is vacating the safe Annandale seat she has held since 1972 to run for chairman against incumbent Republican John F. Herrity. The race will either put her out of office for the first time in 16 years or make her the leader of a ratified slow-growth movement. Polls show Moore leading, but Herrity gaining.

For Moore, Election Day next Tuesday is her last chance to protect Fairfax County and its 710,000 traffic-ensnared residents from more Tysons Corners. For her opponents, who include most of the county's business leaders, it is the day they must stop an unrealistic environmentalist willing to destroy the prosperity to put another park on the map.

Moore, 58, says her concern about overdevelopment began when she lived in New York and had to drive for hours to escape high-rises and breathe fresh air. After she left the New York City suburb of Larchmont for the Washington area in 1950, she was determined to make sure her new home did not turn into the monster she had left behind.

"I want it to be built in balance, to be a comfortable place to live in," she said. "In New York, there is no balance. People there elbow their way to the front of lines and that's characteristic of places where the environment isn't that good."

The Audrey Moore who campaigns on the need for balance is the product of a fine education, hard work and the frustration of limited expectations. She was a straight-A student at Stoneleigh-Prospect Hill School, a private all-girl school in Massachusetts, and later at the University of New Hampshire. Moore read books when others went to parties. She won so many academic awards in high school that her sister Claire Taylor said, "I thought it was embarrassing how many times she got called to the stage."

When Moore came home from college with a degree in economics and announced she wanted to go to law school, her mother Eileen Campbell recalls, she was told, "women didn't do those things." Urged by her mother, Moore went to secretarial school.

She was lured to Washington by her then-fiance who was attending graduate school here. She soon left the romance but stayed with Washington, working as an administrative assistant to a trademark specialist and lobbyist from 1950 to 1955.

In 1954, on a Sunday hike up Old Rag Mountain in the Blue Ridge, Audrey Campbell met Samuel Moore, now a retired Fish and Wildlife Service official and her husband of 32 years. The Moores have lived in Fairfax County since 1956.

Moore gravitated to civic action. Her husband did not want her to work and she was eager for a break from being a housewife with three small boys, Moore recalls. She became fascinated with the building industry and the county's efforts to regulate it.

Rosser Payne, Fairfax's former chief planning official, remembers Moore's first visit to his office around 1960. "She just came in one day, and I wondered why such a pleasant lady was interested in details we dealt with day-to-day," he said. "She said she wanted to educate herself on the techniques of planning. We talked about rezoning applications, state codes for sewers, transportation, parks . . . . "

For an entire year, Moore visited Payne once a week. At first, the information gave her courage to take on landowners and developers in neighborhood squabbles. After 1966, when 15 Fairfax supervisors, developers and bureaucrats were indicted for accepting or offering bribes in exchange for zoning changes, her grasp of land-use issues served as ammunition against these people and their actions.

"Up to that point, I felt that I could put on my white gloves and behave like a lady arguing the facts," she said. "But I was really shocked, really amazed, to find that the board was looking after the financial interests, not the interests of the long-term resident."

Moore said she felt almost obliged to undo the zoning changes passed under the discredited board. Those changes made it possible for landowners to build more office and retail space on their properties. To this day, Moore says she is struggling to straighten out what the "crooks in the '60s" did.

She spent much of her time fighting for more open space. In 1966, she launched an all-out door-knocking and speaking campaign to make sure developers did not devour Wakefield Park, which she envisioned as Fairfax's version of New York's Central Park. It is now a 230-acre park in the center of the county. In 1967, she was largely responsible for a successful $18 million park referendum called to expand parks countywide.

Shortly after that, she joined a group of suburban activists who wanted to silence the bulldozers, jackhammers and cranes throughout the Washington region. They sought to stop what they saw as reckless development and they tried to do it by limiting the construction of water and sewer lines.

"She energized that whole movement," said Nancy L. Brown, an aide to Moore who first met her at a League of Women Voters meeting when John F. Kennedy was president. "People had thought of government as something over there, but we found out that we could make things happen, that you could voice your opinion to local government."

Carried into office in 1971 by a slow-growth sentiment that elected several other environmentalists to the board, Moore was part of a board majority that sought to limit public improvements and slow development. But the Virginia courts and General Assembly rebuffed that board's efforts, and in 1975, voters elected Herrity chairman and gave him a working majority.

Since then, Moore has found herself on the losing end of dozens of 8-to-1 votes, shouting "nay" against a chorus of "ayes" and warning her colleagues of the consequences of "damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead development." She described development as "reckless" and "unbridled" and called the Chamber of Commerce "The Land Speculation League."

"She would continue to push her point even if it drowned out other board members," said Supervisor Joseph Alexander (D-Lee). "She had a propensity to talk and go on, and on, and on. She would beat it to death, even after people stopped listening."

Alexander said Moore has softened her tone recently and civic activist Sally Ormsby said some residents wonder if "she has gone too much for balance and moderation. She has toned down so much recently . . . she really could use some of her old steam."

Moore has worked in recent months to appear less fractious and more of a team player and has softened the attacks on her colleagues that, at times, led to shouting matches.

At a recent Tysons Corner luncheon, she told 400 developers and business leaders that, although she wants to change the rules of development, she would include them in any discussions and approach the changes "sensitively" and in "a fair way."

Wire glasses, tailored suits and a slimmed-down figure are also part of the new Moore. But the hardest thing to change, Moore has found, is abbreviating her rambling technical responses. Moore's campaign manager, Toddy Puller, reminds her regularly to keep her answers short, to get to the point.

She has learned to turn more colorful phrases. If Herrity is reelected there will be so much traffic "you will have to have an appointment to get on the Beltway," she says, and Fairfax will become "Los Angeles without the beach."

Although Moore looks and sounds different, her critics are not convinced she has made real changes. After 16 years of holding out, many doubt whether she can build a consensus, form a coalition, compromise.

"She can't change her stripes overnight," said Henry A. Long, a prominent local developer.

Others say she can and Moore herself says she's learned a lot over the years, including "when to push and when to back off." She insists that she has been "leaning so hard in the other direction" because she needs to balance the probusiness forces on the board.

Herrity is campaigning against the old Moore, saying that if she is elected, the county's economic base will suffer. Moore recalls that she and Herrity were friends when they were freshman supervisors in 1971. However, she added, "In recent years, I could feel bad vibes {from him}." She said her feelings toward him are "neutral."

Although the county's zoning scandal is ancient history, Moore remains suspicious of land deals and board proposals. She tells reporters to watch for any rezonings scheduled for 4:30 p.m. or midnight, when reporters are often out of the room. In fact, her suspicions of conspiracy are so well-known that a joke around the county office building goes:

"What happened when Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall?"

"Audrey Moore blamed the developers."

Business leaders say Moore does not understand the risk and tumbles of the business world and that schools, services and the tax rate can be hurt by her policies. They accuse her of seeing the world in terms of good and evil, of going after them as if she were Eliot Ness chasing gangsters.

Others say her upper-middle-class background and her husband's government career have made her believe too much in Uncle Sam and not enough in American enterprise.

"I think horrible things will happen if she is elected," said a major Northern Virginia developer, who like most of his brethren was reluctant to be identified because he said he thinks Moore will win. "She will send a signal to business around the country that Fairfax doesn't like growth. Businesses like TRW, Electronic Data Systems and Contel don't need Fairfax County, they can go somewhere else where they are wanted."

Instead of bashing developers, Moore should be harnessing their energy and money to solve transportation problems, said Long. "You can't hold people at gunpoint to make them solve problems." Instead of welcoming what growth can bring, Long said, "She wants to withdraw, to pull up the gangplank and turn off the light."

Also in the race for chairman are independents James S. Morris Jr., a real estate agent, and Robert T. (Terry) Robarge, a mortgage banker.

In 1971, Moore used sturdy walking shoes and $5,000 to let people know that she wanted to slow the pace of development. With a hand-held Sony recorder, she taped 30-second radio spots to explain her belief in more planning and less construction. "Rapid growth can only mean higher taxes, congested roads, and higher levels of air and water pollution," she said.

This year she is using $300,000 and expensive television ads to condemn Herrity for supporting "reckless development."

"From the day I met her she has been talking about managed growth," said Samuel A. Finz, a developer who was deputy county executive in the 1970s. "I don't agree with her a lot of the time, but I can't think of somebody who deserves more credit for standing up to tremendous opposition and saying what she believes in."

While voters have not embraced Moore's message during the past 12 years, polls show that three-quarters of Fairfax voters now think there is too much development in the county. An unprecedented building boom has brought Fairfax 200,000 new residents, 35 million square feet of office space, and 130,000 more housing units since 1970.

That all accrues to Moore's benefit. She also is helped, according to political observers and polls, by voters' negative feelings toward Herrity and limited knowledge of Moore's own record.

She may have begun to turn the tide two years ago, when she posted her biggest victory: A Circuit Court judge upheld the county's right to restrict development to only one house per five acres in the 41,000-acre Occoquan Basin in southwest Fairfax.

The ruling "would not have happened without her," said Supervisor Thomas M. Davis (R-Mason). "She spent years laying the foundation."

At first, most county officials did not believe Fairfax could win the case. They gave it low priority and put their least experienced lawyers on it. Moore called in the press and the public, whom she sees as her closest, if not only, allies.

"I figured if I could pack the courtroom, I could embarrass the county into getting better help," she recalls. Dozens of environmental and civic leaders took time off from work to show support Moore and ask why the county had sent ill-prepared rookies to face the developers' high-priced lawyers. The county switched lawyers and began approaching the case as if it had a chance of winning.

"She has unusual dedication," said Thomas Standards, a former president of the Fairfax Federation of Citizens Associations. "She does her homework, she's hardworking and she has a dogged persistence."

Her ability to deliver constituent services is legendary and her office drawers are filled with files mentioning such problems as Helen Myhre's cracked sidewalk, Betty Giffi's left turn signal, and Paul Rothenberg's drainage problem. In her central Fairfax Annandale District, voters have reelected her term after term, usually by 2-to-1 ratios. She was unopposed in her last election.

"People love her because she will look into any problem, no matter how small," said Ormsby, former president of the Fairfax Federation of Citizens Associations. "She is honest, the farthest thing from devious; straight as an arrow."

Many of her strongest Annandale supporters have volunteered to work full time for her first countywide venture, and her grass-roots campaign includes 2,000 volunteers and 5,000 contributors.

Despite advice that the 399-square-mile county is too large for door-to-door campaigning, Moore continues to look for votes the way she did 16 years ago. As she recently set out on a three-hour walk through Franklin Farms, a subdivision near Dulles International Airport, she explained that door-knocking was her way of keeping in touch with her constituents.

At one door, a homeowner told Moore that the county was letting developers "get away with murder" by not making them pay for more roads. Moore smiled and said: "You're talking to a lady who's not a favorite of those guys." AUDREY MOORE

Date of Birth: Dec. 28, 1928, Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Education: University of New Hampshire, B.A. economics, 1950.

Family: Married Samuel V. Moore, now retired official from the U.S. Department of Interior, 1955; children: Robert, 30; Andrew, 28; and Douglas, 26.

Career: Administrative assistant to a trademark specialist and lobbyist, 1950-1955; Annandale District Supervisor, 1972-present.

Civic Activities: president, Fairfax Hills Civic Association, 1966-71; director of research, Fairfax Association for Children with Learning Disabilities 1967-68; Director of the Conservation Council of Virginia 1970; member, Committee for Industrial Development, 1969, Fairfax County Air Pollution Control Board, 1971, American Assembly, Columbia University panel of experts on land use, 1974.

Citations: AFL-CIO award for promoting workers safety; Northern Virginia Transportation Commission citation for promoting use of seat belts, 1985.