Along the tree-lined streets of Cleveland Park, on the restored corridors of upper 14th Street, in Michigan Park, Trinidad and Ivy. City, as well as the racially changing areas around Capitol Hill, candidates for ward seats on the D.C. City Council are revving up their campaign machines.

Lively contests involving a variety of issues are in progress in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6. Nominees from five parties-Democratric, Republican, D.C. Stastehood, U.S. Labor and Socialist Workers - will be chosen in the Sept. 12 primary election.

In Ward 1, which stretches from the town homes and rowhouses of Mount Pleasant to the historic mansions of LeDroit Park, housing has emerged as the major issue binding together an extremely diverse ward population. Incumbent David A. Clarke is facing three opponents for the Democratic nomination. The Socialist Workers and U.S. Labor parties will also have primaries.

Polly Shackleton, the veteran liberal Democrat who has served as both an elected and appointed member of the City Council, is running a relaxed campaign in Ward 3, the area of the city west of Rock Creek Park. Her only Democratic opponent contends she has relaxed too much on the council.

Four years ago, there was a crowded field of nine candidates when William R. Spaulding squeaked to victory in the Democratic primary in Ward 5, the homeowner-rich area of the city that includes most of Northest Washington west of the Anacostia River. This year again there is a large field and the race may again be close.

In Ward 6, the crazy quilt section of the city that includes fashionable areas of Capitol Hill as well as parts of poverty-ridden Anacostia, neighborhood workers have put an early emphasis on registering new voters.

But in the next few weeks, most attention will shift to whether incumbent Nadine P. Winter can stave off a Democratic primary challenge from three opponents.

Most of the campaign activity is centered in the Democratic primaries. But even unopposed candidates will have to be voted into nomination. There are also campaigns in progress for two at-large council seats and council chairman.

Today, The Washington Post begins its regular coverage of the ward races for the primary.