District residents who are registered with one of three political parties will go to the polls in Tuesday's primary election to nominate candidates for six City Council seats.

Only voters registered as Democrats, Republicans or Statehood Party members will be eligible to vote for their party's candidates who are vying for two at-large and four ward council seats. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Six City Council members are seeking reelection. In the most hotly contested races, those in Ward 4, in upper Northwest between Rock Creek Park and North Capitol Street; in Ward 8, generally south of Pennsylvania Avenue SE., and the Republican at-large race, two District school board members and a former school board member are the key challengers.

City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D -- Ward 8) faces opposition from four opponents, including R. Calvin Lockridge, the ward's school board representative since 1977.

Lockridge and the other challengers, Leona Redmond, William M. Andrews Jr. and Richard Smith, have accused Rolark of being unable to obtain the type of city services and programs that would bring more jobs and improved housing conditions to Ward 8, the city's poorest ward.

In Ward 4, City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis' lone challenger is at-large school board member Barbara Lett Simmons. William Cooper, a private computer consultant, withdrew from the race, but his name will appear on the ballot because of the lateness of his withdrawal. Simmons was drafted to run by a group of Ward 4 residents unhappy with Jarvis' service.

Although some residents have complained that Jarvis needs to be more attentive to resident concerns, some ward observers say that political style rather than the issues may decide the race.

Simmons is outspoken and often characterized as abrasive and noncooperative.

Jarvis, who heads the council's Committee on Housing and Economic Development, is considered more diplomatic.

Perhaps the most controversial race is the one for the at-large council seat now held by Jerry A. Moore Jr., the council's only Republican. Moore's opponents have accused him of being a closet Democrat and during political forums some of the candidates have accused one another of trying to get their Democratic friends to switch to the Republican Party just long enough to vote in the primary.

By law, two of the council's at-large seats must be reserved for members of parties not in the majority, which means in effect non-Democrats. Moore has argued that he is the only Republican who can win a citywide race for the seat he has held for 15 years. But two challengers, former school board member Carol Schwartz and private contractor John West, contend that Moore has been reluctant to take controversial stands on the council and has not readily represented Republican views on issues.

Schwartz, who has stressed that the council needs to conduct more oversight hearings, is viewed as the major threat to Moore.

Bob Roehr, a community activist, withdrew from the race Tuesday and endorsed Schwartz. His name will also appear on the ballot.

In the other at-large race, Democratic City Council member John Ray is being challenged by Benoit Brookens, a lawyer and an advocate of tenants' rights. Brookens is not expected to be a strong contender against Ray, who has raised $126,000 for the race. Ray ran unsuccessfully for mayor two years ago and serves as chairman of the council's Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee.

D.C. Statehood Party member Josephine (Jo) Butler is running unopposed for her party's nomination to run for an at-large council seat in the November election. Butler, who heads the Statehood Party and a group called People vs. High Utility Bills, has received endorsements from a number of local groups, including the AFL-CIO Metropolitan Washington Council.

Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) is being challenged by Johnnie Mae Scott Rice, the former executive secretary for the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and Harold Bell, a sports promotions consultant.

Council member John Wilson (D-Ward 2) is unopposed.

The winners of Tuesday's primary will go on to the November general election. However, winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday is usually considered tantamount to election because Democrats outnumber Republicans in the District by a 9 to 1 margin.