Former Alexandria city councilman Nicholas A. Colasanto, 77, has announced that he will run as an independent in seeking a sixth term in the city's May council election. The decision fulfills the promise to seek reelection that Colasanto made after his defeat in a 1979 Democratic primary.

"I never stopped running," the retired attorney said. "I just want to be a good city councilman."

To that end, he has distributed more than 30,000 shoehorns, nail files and matchbooks inscribed "Compliments of Nicholas A. Colasanto" in the last three years. Considered to be one of the old guard in the city politics, he said that his 40-member organizing committee includes two former Alexandria mayors, Frank E. Mann and Leroy Bendheim.

Colasanto, who served five terms on the council, was defeated in the 1979 Democratic primary. He has decided to run as an independent this time primarily to bypass the primary test, he said.

The outspoken Colasanto, who served three years as city manager in the '40s, said last week that he intends to run a low-key campaign and to keep his temper in check. "I have nothing against anybody," he said. "I wish everybody good luck. But I want to be number one."

Colasanto said his primary concern for the city is "to see the city retain its glory and historic grandeur. I'm proud of how far the city has come. When I came here 52 years ago, you know, this place was a dump."