Dozens of D.C. people filed petitions yesterday to place their names on the Sept. 11 primary ballot, with many narrowly beating the 5 p.m. deadline to be included on the ballot.

In the last hour before the deadline, representatives of 49 candidates dropped off stacks of signatures at the offices of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on the first floor of the District Building, according to Leona Agouridis, board spokeswoman.

"It was just crazy," Agouridis said. "The room was full. There was no room to move. It was unreal."

All told, 53 candidates filed petitions, making this year's the most crowded ballot since 1978, the year Marion Barry was first elected mayor, when there were 47 candidates on the September ballot.

This year's large number of petitions was testimony, board officials said, to the hotly contested races for numerous seats, including mayor and D.C. delegate, and the presence of new political positions, the so-called "shadow" senator and representative seats created to elect lobbyists for D.C. statehood.

To be included on the ballot, Democratic candidates for citywide offices -- including mayor, delegate, council chairman, at-large member of the council and the new shadow positions -- must obtain the signatures of 2,000 registered voters; Republicans must obtain 252 and Statehood Party candidates 21. Many of the candidates filed far more signatures than were necessary.

Four ward council seats also are up for election this year; the number of signatures required for those races depends on the ward.

Candidates will have until the close of business July 17 to challenge the validity of any of their opponents' petitions. The election board will then hold public hearings to rule on the challenges, and will finish those hearings by the end of July.

Independents seeking to be on the ballot in the November general election have until Aug. 29 to file petitions.

There were few surprises in yesterday's filings. Jesse L. Jackson filed petitions to run for one of the shadow senator positions, which will be listed on the ballot simply as "United States senator."

Also, Calvin Gurley, who had waged a vigorous, if long-shot, campaign for mayor, dropped out of that race to run for the Ward 6 council seat held by Nadine P. Winter (D).

In the mayor's race, eight candidates filed the necessary petitions: D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke, lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon, Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, Ward 4 council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, At-Large council member John Ray and minister Osie Thorpe, all Democrats; Republican Maurice T. Turner Jr., former D.C. police chief; and Statehood candidate Alvin C. Frost.

Self-described prostitute Prissy Williams-Godfrey, who had been running as a Republican, did not file.

In the race for D.C. delegate, 10 candidates filed petitions, including seven Democrats: George X Cure, a legal adviser to the Nation of Islam; At-Large council member Betty Ann Kane; Georgetown law professor Eleanor Holmes Norton; former school board member Barbara Lett Simmons; former congressional aide Donald Temple; former D.C. Council chairman Sterling Tucker; and former Barry administration official Joseph P. Yeldell.

On the Republican side, three candidates filed: consultant Jim Champagne, lawyer Harry M. Singleton, and general contractor Roffle Mayes Miller.

In the race for D.C. Council chairman, two Democrats filed: former D.C. finance official Vincent Orange and Ward 2 council member John A. Wilson. A Statehood Party member, Dennis L. Fitch, also filed.