- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

With education and transportation as their top priorities, 17 Northern Virginia candidates battled for six House seats in yesterday's Republican primaries.
Delegate Jeannemarie A. Devolites, 45, took a step toward holding on to her District 35 seat in easily defeating her opponent, Arthur G. Purves, 52. With all of the district's 15 precincts reporting, she won 83 percent of the vote, 2,064 to Mr. Purves' 428.
Fairfax County School Board member Gary Reese, 56, defeated his opponents, John M. Clerici, 30, and David A. Warrington, 33. Mr. Reese drew 969 votes, or 40 percent, to Mr. Clerici's 772 votes (31 percent) and Mr. Warrington's 712 (29 percent). He will now compete for House District 67 in November's elections.
Longtime Herndon Mayor Thomas D. Rust's transportation plans appeared to have made quite an impact. Mr. Rust, 60, won with 64 percent of the vote over Steven D. Whitener, in District 86 with all 16 precincts reporting, 2,075 to 1,166.
The primaries in Northern Virginia involve House Districts 31, 35, 52, 67, 86 and 88, cutting across Stafford, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Fauquier, Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Republican primaries were also held in District 91 in Hampton, District 99 in Lancaster and District 21 in Virginia Beach.
The general election for the Virginia House of Delegates is scheduled for Nov. 6.
Legislative redistricting pushed the primaries forward from June to August. The Democrats did not hold primaries, choosing instead to nominate all of their candidates in caucuses.
Almost all the candidates in yesterday's primaries gave top billing to education and transportation, with many echoing each others' promises on retaining teachers and increasing resources for schools.
"Education and transportation are the top issues. That is what people are looking for," said Joe Underwood, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party.
Mr. Underwood said he was not surprised by the results.
"These are three exceedingly strong candidates they are in tune with what the people of Northern Virginia want, like improving schools and transportation. I am expecting a very easy win in the November elections," he said.
Moments after his victory, Mr. Reese, who has been a school board member for 10 years, vowed to keep up his efforts for education reform in the state.
Asked if he had had some anxious moments given the fairly close race, he replied: "Yes and no." The last precinct to report, he said, was his home precinct of Waples Mill.
"In the end, they gave me an outstanding victory," he said. He added that Mr. Clerici is also from Waples Mill.
In District 52 in Prince William County, Delegate John A. "Jack" Rollison III, a House member since 1986, easily topped Robert D. "Bob" Berry with all 14 precincts reporting, 1,028 (66 percent) to 537. Mr. Rollison, 50, made a pitch for transportation — getting mass transit into the county without raising taxes — and retaining good teachers. Mr. Berry, 44, a defense contractor and legislative analyst, supported keeping good teachers in Virginia's schools.
L. Scott Lingamfelter, 50, a retired army colonel, won the nomination from District 31, drawing 1,581 votes, or 53 percent of the vote, in a three-way race. Dell P. Ennis, 42, received 861 votes (29 percent) and G.E. Buck Waters, 41, took 518 votes (18 percent).
Four incumbents were challenged in yesterday's primaries. Besides Mrs. Devolities and Mr. Rollison, who is co-chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Delegate John J. Welch of Virginia Beach was challenged by Margaret A. Totin and Delegate Phil E. Larrabee Jr. of Hampton was challenged by Thomas D. Gear. While Mr. Welch won with 64 percent of the vote, Mr. Larrabee lost the nomination to Mr. Gear, 2,177 to 2,048.
In two of the seats being contested in Northern Virginia, delegates are retiring: Delegate Roger McClure in District 67 and Delegate Jay Katzen in District 31. Mr. Katzen is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.
As part of her campaign for the primary, Mrs. Devolites focused on her record in the House, citing legislative successes including health care for uninsured children and her support for the car-tax cut. She was challenged by Mr. Purves because she voted in favor of a referendum that would allow Northern Virginia voters to decide whether to increase local sales tax to pay for transportation projects.
The two candidates brought fiercely opposing views to the primaries.
Mrs. Devolites supports additional resources for schools; Mr. Purves, who is president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers' Alliance, said that while school spending has increased, problems facing the school system have continued.
Mr. Reese, a lawyer who has served on the Fairfax County School Board since 1992, also focused on education. His opponent, Mr. Clerici, a former Air Force captain, promised lower taxes and increased parental involvement in education.
The third candidate in the race, Mr. Warrington, supported transportation issues including a second Potomac River crossing between Virginia and Maryland.
Voter turnout yesterday was very low, even for a primary, when low turnouts are typical, election officials said.
"Voters are not used to primaries in August," said Carol Ann Coryell, secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board. She added that people were often on vacation during this time.
Still, turnout was better than expected in Fairfax, with more than 5 percent of voters turning out for the three races in the county, she said.
"Obviously, the contestants campaigned very hard," she said.
In Prince William County, Brenda Cabrera, a worker at the county's electoral board, said they expected between 3 percent and 5 percent of the voters to vote.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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