Campaigns to fill seats on the District of Columbia City Council at a special election May 1 may be shaping up as free-for-alls.

Twenty-eight candidates have filed petitions for ballot spots. Of those, 12 are seeking the at-large seat vacated by Mayor Marion Barry. The other 16 are seeking the Ward 4 seat vacated by Council Chairman Arrington L. Dixon.

The terms for both seats have two more years to run.

Both campaigns have attracted well-known and little-known candidates, including several who have sought council or school board seats in the past.

Among the at-large candidates is John L. Ray, who was appointed with Barry's support in January by the D.C. Democartic State Committee to occupy the mayor's former seat until after the May 1 special election. One of his challengers is Douglas E. Moore, who gave up is at-large seat last year to seek the council chairmanship. He lost to Dixon.

Unlike the at-large seat, the Ward 4 seat remains vacant until after the election.

Although most of the aspirants are running as Democrats, with two wearing minor-party labels, partisanship will count for little in the May 1 voting. The election is a winner-take-all affair, with the person receiving the largest number of votes winning election. There is no runoff.

By a quirk of D.C. law, no Republicans can seek the at-large seat. The reason is that the two at-large seats that expire in 1981 cannot be occupied by members of the same party. The current incumbent in the other seat is the council's lone Republican, Jerry A. Moore Jr.

The other two at-large seats, with terms expiring in 1983, are occupied by Betty Ann Kane, a Democrat who succeeded Douglas Moore, and Hilda H. Mason, of the Statehood Party, who was reelected in November.

Large fields of candidates are not uncommon in the District. For example, in 1974, when Dixon first sought the Democratic council nomination in Ward 4, he ran in a field of 15 and won with slightly less than 20 percent of the total vote. Ward 4 covers the extreme northern part of the District east of Rock Creek Park. It is a politically active area with mostly middle- and upper-middle income residents.

Not all of the aspirants who filed petitions will necessarily appear on the ballot. Signatures on the petitions are subject to challenge by rival candidates (or by D.C. voters generally) until March 5. The Board of Elections and Ethics has until March 20 to determine whether the challenges are valid. Only then will the total number of candidates on the ballot be known.

In addition to the council candidates, voters will choose an at-large, non-partisan member of the city school board at the May 1 election. The seat was vacated by Kane after she was elected to the council. As of Monday evening, 18 potential candidates had taken petitions from the Board of Elections. Tomorrow is the deadline for filing.

Following, in alphabetical order, are the names of aspirants who have filed petitions for ballot spots in the council campaigns. Those without biographical information could not be contacted.

ATLARGE

Richard Blanks Sr., Democrat, 1018 Southern Ave. SE, a former teacher and manpower specialist who is director of education for the International Association of Fire Fighters labor recruitment program.

Christopher H. Brown (whose name would appear on the ballot as H. Chris Brown), Democrat, 1600 H St. SE, a retired Air Force sergeant and neighborhood worker.

Curtis Butler, Democrat, 1905 11th St. NW. He picked up petitions for the at-large race won by Kane last year, but never filed for candidacy.

Jackson R. Champion, running as an independent, 607 4th St. SW, a publisher and former merchant who was the Republican candidate for mayor in 1974 and appeared twice on last November's general election ballot as GOP candidate for council chairman and delegate to Congress.

The Rev. Lin Covington, Democrat, 1308 Morris Rd. SE, a community worker who ran in 1976 for the nomination to the Ward 8 seat now occupied by Wilhelmina Rolark.

Frances Goldman, independent, 2013 O St. NW.

David G. Harris, Democrat, 413 L St. NW, an office administrator and former campaign worker for Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.).

Warren A. Hemphill Sr., independent, 2207 31st Pl. SE, a D.C. government employe who sought an at-large council seat last year.

Douglas E. m/oore, Democrat, 1300 Newton St. NE, a Methodist minister who served four years on the council and developed a reputation as a maverick liberal.

John L. Ray, Democrat, 1350 E St. NW, a lawyer who sought the mayoral nomination last year but dropped out, throwing his support to Barry, and in trun was backed by Barry as the interim council appointee. He will be supported by Barry in the May 1 election campaign.

Hector Rodriguez, Democrat, 2121 P St. NW, the lone Hispanic in the race, a planner and administrator who ran for nomination to the at-large council seat vacated by Moore last year.

Stuart Rosenblatt, U.S. Labor Party, 1701 16th St. NW, chairman of the party in the District and a candidate last year for the at-large council seat to which Hilda Mason was reelected.

WARD 4

Ernest Bowman, Democrat, 5921 14th St. NW.

Robert V. Brown, Democrat, 5417 13th St. NW, a teacher who ran for nomination to the at-large seat vacated by Moore last year.

Richard R. Clark, Democrat, 7509 14th St. NW, a lawyer and teacher, who was the Republican nominee for the same seat in 1974, losing to Dixon.

Andrew Coleman, Democrat, 1206 Longfellow St. NW, director of the new-student orientation program at Howard University.

Barry K. Campbell, Democrat, 419 Emerson, St. NW, who was Dixon's executive assistant on the council staff until last summer.

Malcolm W. Diggs, Democrat, 1300 Van Buren St. NW, a former congressional assistant who once headed an organization of minority liquor dealers and now holds a management post with a utility company.

Charlene Drew Jarvis, Democrat, 1789 Sycamore St. NW, a psychologist at the National Institutes of Health and daughter of Dr. Charles Drew, discoverer of blood plasma. She is expected to win support from Dixon.

Goldie Cornelius Johnson, Democrat, 1917 Tulip St. NW, a beautician and president of the Metropolitan Police Wives Association, who ran for nomination last year to the at-large seat vacated by Moore.

Dorothy M. Maultsby, Democrat, 214 Oneida St. NE, a retired government management specialist who sought the mayoral nomination last year but dropped out, throwing her support to Walter E. Washington.

Norman C. Neverson, Democrat, 4826 Fort Totten Dr. NW, an executive who sought election to the school board in 1971, when he lived in Ward 1, and narrowly lost in runoff.

Mary G. Prahinske, Democrat, 1901 Plymouth St. NW, an active civil rights and Democratic Party worker who serves on both the D.C. State Health Coordinating Committee and the D.C. Adult Education Planning Commission.

Felix B. Redmond, Democrat, 1002 Quebec Pl. NW.

The Rev. William Revely, 617 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, copastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church.

Gregory Rowe, Statehood, 7721 16th St. NW, a youth counselor who was the Statehood candidate for delegate to Congress last year.

Nathaniel (Nate) Sims, Democrat, 7703 12th St. NW, president of Neighbors, Inc., a community group, who resigned his job with the city government to run for the council.

Victoria T. Street, Democrat, 1908 Tulip St. NW, a retired school teacher and administrator who was appointed and later elected to the school board from Ward 4 to replace Hilda Mason when the latter was elected to the City Council. Street was one of the 14 who lost to Dixon in the crowded Democratic primary in the ward in 1974.