Tom Chorlton, a local gay political activist, announced yesterday his candidacy as a Statehood Party contender for the at-large D.C. Council seat held by Republican Carol Schwartz.

Chorlton, criticizing Schwartz as being "an alternative headline" rather than an "alternative voice," charged that the Republican had authored less than 2 percent of the 980 bills that have been introduced since she joined the council three years ago.

"Those who admire her outspokenness should also be appalled by her failure to play any meaningful role in the legislative process," Chorlton said in a news conference at the District Building.

Chorlton, who publishes a monthly newsletter of council actions, said he plans to build his campaign on "a solid foundation of progressive issues," including better schools and affordable housing.

He said he also plans to tackle such problems as the AIDS health crisis, the homeless and the city's drug war.

"No one can pretend to have all of the answers to these complex issues, but they will be addressed during the course of my campaign," said Chorlton.

Chorlton, 42, an activist in local and national gay rights organizations, said he intends to build part of his campaign on the political base in the gay community. In addition, he said he has already begun campaigning in the city's eight wards.

A former teacher in the Peace Corps, Chorlton is the first candidate to announce officially for one of the two citywide seats up for election this year. He said he wants to debate his opponents.

In addition to Schwartz, Democratic council member John Ray is running for reelection to his at-large seat. Seats in Wards 2, 4, 7 and 8 also are up for election.