Newcomers will make up a majority of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in January following elections yesterday in which three incumbents on the seven-member board did not seek reelection and one was resoundingly defeated.

Despite the wholesale change of face, there was little evidence to suggest a massive shift in the county's fundamental direction on the core issues of growth and schools. Almost all the victors campaigned on platforms of encouraging commercial development while doing everything possible to blunt the impact of costly residential growth in Northern Virginia's second largest locality.

In Prince William's sole countywide race, Democratic Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert, the county's chief prosecutor for the last two decades, was elected to his sixth four-year term by a heavy margin over Republican challenger Peter W. Steketee.

Voters overwhelmingly approved three bond issues totaling $44.89 for school construction -- overturning Prince William's history of rebuffing most debt proposals.

In western Prince William's Gainesville District, incumbent Republican Guy A. (Tony) Guiffre lost by 60 percent to 40 percent to Democratic challenger Robert L. Cole, who had assailed the incumbent's political style.

"He created his own situation, which was an inability to work with the board," said Cole, a Manassasarea real estate agent. "Now the monkey is on my back to show that I'm a team player."

In eastern Prince William's Woodbridge District, Democrat Hilda M. Barg, who struck the most aggressive antigrowth tone of any of last night's winners, beat Republican Ella Shannon and independent Edward Rodriguez. Next door in the Occoquan District, three-term Democrat Kathleen K. Seefeldt beat GOP challenger Gregory L. Cebula by a margin of 59 to 41 percent.

Dumfries incumbent Edwin C. King, a Democrat, survived a 51 to 49 percent scare against GOP-endorsed independent Norma G. Pandazides, whose showing surprised political analysts, who had focused on her idiosyncracies such as her steadfast refusal to reveal her age.

In the largely rural Brentsville District, William J. Becker was Prince William's only victorious Republican, edging Democrat Norborne P. Beville.

In the Coles District, Democratically endorsed independent Terrence Spellane won a decisive plurality in a three-way race against Republican Theresa A. Barratt and independent Denis Catalano.

Incumbent Democrat John D. Jenkins faced no opposition in his Dale City-area Neabsco District.

Two factors may have been decisive in yesterday's balloting: record campaign spending, and a flood of new voters, about 28 percent more than the last county election four years ago.

Ebert, who was the youngest prosecutor in Virginia when first elected 20 years ago, broke a county record by spending more than $38,000, more than three times that of the 44-year-old Steketee.

"There were a lot of {new voters} who didn't know who to vote for, and if you have to spend money to get the message across then spend it."

The matchup between Ebert and Steketee offered a striking contrast in personal styles and philosophies of how a prosecutor should function in a diverse and rapidly evolving county.

Ebert, speaking with the slow, southern drawl that has served his political fortunes well in two decades as the county's top law enforcer, presented himself to voters as a tough-minded prosecutor in the traditional mold, whose savvy courtroom presence could bring home convictions in the most difficult cases.

Steketee, with his polished, well-spoken demeanor, seemed deliberately to style his campaign to the tastes and priorities of Prince William's new suburbanites. He scored Ebert for declining to prosecute too many cases. He also vowed to take the lead in addressing social issues, such as the problems of youth in a county in which most most parents work outside the home.

Unlike Fairfax County, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors does not elect an at-large chairman, meaning that no single board race galvanized attention countywide. However, in the county's seven magisterial districts, the familiar themes of how best to manage growth and improve transportation led to some spirited debates.

Staff writer Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.