David A. Clarke told supporters at a curbside rally last weekend on Seaton Street that he had decided to seek reelection to his Ward 1 seat on the City Council.

He said that "after serious consultation with many community leaders" and political friends, he concluded he could better serve by keeping that seat than by running for the council chairmanship.

Next year, Clarke said, the council's judiciary committee, which he heads, will have jurisdiction over criminal laws, making more effective use of his legals education.

Ward 1 is a center-city area north of downtown, which includes the depressed 14th Street corridor, the Adams Morgan area and part of Embassy Row.

Clarke said he decided to announce his re-election bid on Seaton Street, a one-block strip of row houses off Florida Avenue, because it symbolized the city housing problems and the local government response to it.

After a group of tenants successfully resisted eviction by new owners, Clarke said he succeeded in getting the street declared a community development area, leading to its renovation with the former tenants becoming owners.

Clarke said he would run on his record, which includes sponsoring or supporting the removal of the sales tax on food and medicine, the imposition of strong rent controls and the enactment of a tax on real estate speculation profits.

Clarke, 34, is the father of a son, Jeffrey, 3. A native Washington, he recently received the 1978 outstanding alumnus award from the local chapter of the Howard Law Alumni Association.

As about 100 of Clarke's supporters were gathering for the announcement, Frank Smith Jr. walked around shaking hands. A few minutes later, Smith went to the other end of Seaton Street and made his own announcement that he would challenge Clarke.