About 200 people attended a forum at Washington's Bruce-Monroe Elementary School last night to hear each of seven aspirants explain why he or she would be the best person to serve as the D.C. school board's Ward One representative.

Frank Smith's recent election to the City Council has left a vacancy on the 11-member school board. The Ward One Council on Education sponsored last night's forum.

The candidates who attended the forum included former at-large school board member Manuel B. Lopez, a manager of vocational-technical training programs for the Navy; Edna Frazier-Cromwell, chairman of the 14th and U Streets Coalition; Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner James W. Curry; former D.C. public schools teacher Absalom F. Jordan Sr.; former school board candidate Jonas C. Milton; James R. Forman, chairman of the Unemployed and Poverty Action Council, and Douglas G. Glasgow, former dean of the school of social work at Howard University.

On the question of Mayor Marion Barry's proposal to cut $18 million from the school system's 1984 budget, the candidates offered these responses:

"We will have to galvanize as much public support as possible to show what the loss of this $18 million means," said Glasgow.

Curry said the board might have to consider eliminating such programs as driver education and athletics.

Forman said the city must seek more aggressively to increase its revenue to alleviate such burdens on the school system.

Frazier-Cromwell said that "there will be other chances to improve roads, but not the education of our children."

Milton would wait until he was on the board to analyze the situation, but was against Barry's proposal.

Lopez said parents must join the fight to "demonstrate you want quality education for our youth."

Jordan said that "if we want these things for our children, we must be willing to pay for them . . . in increased taxes."

The school board is expected to appoint Smith's successor in February to fill out the remainder of his term. Smith's term expires in December.