Perhaps the biggest political news in Ward 2 this year is the expected elevation of D.C. Council member John A. Wilson to the council chairmanship.

For 16 years, since the beginning of the District's home rule government, Wilson has represented this diverse, central city ward that stretches from the salons of Georgetown to the gay bars of Dupont Circle, from the housing projects of Southwest Washington to the commercial office buildings of the downtown business corridor.

Wilson has been extremely popular in the ward and has shown an uncanny ability to bridge the diverse interests of its many races and economic backgrounds. With no serious opposition in the Democratic primary, his election will trigger a special election to fill his seat, probably next April. Already, at least a half-dozen community activists are maneuvering to position themselves for the race.

Two prominent ward activists -- Georgetowner Ray Browne and downtown ANC commissioner Clarene Martin -- are running for an at-large seat on the council this fall.

Should either or both fail, they are expected to be in the running for Wilson's seat.

School board member R. David Hall, city official Jim Zais, and Dupont Circle activist Jack Evans are among others considering a bid for the Ward 2 seat.

Meanwhile, the mayor's race is very much up in the air in Ward 2, with support for the various Democratic candidates in Tuesday's primary breaking down along geographic and ideological lines.

D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy is said to be strong in the Shaw neighborhood, his longtime political base and site of his New Bethel Baptist Church. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) is running strong among gay men and women, many in the Dupont Circle neighborhood.

Council Chairman David A. Clarke is expected to do well among tenants and liberal activists, while at-large council member John Ray has solidified a strong base of support in Georgetown, according to some. Lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon is a wild card, they said.

Wilson is staying neutral in the mayor's race, although many believe he would not be unhappy to see the election of Ray, a longtime friend.

"I think most of the voters are perplexed as to what to do," Wilson said. "I've never been asked so many times in my life who I think would be the best mayor."

Evans, a member of the Democratic State Committee and a Ray supporter, said that "no one candidate is going to win or lose the election" in Ward 2. "It would be hard to say that any candidate is going to get more than 25 percent of the vote here," he said.

Even less certain is the outcome of the race for D.C. delegate, according to community activists.

Zais, who has long coordinated Ward 2 constituent services for Mayor Marion Barry, said the leading issue among residents this year is the "quality of life," ranging from concern about drugs and crime to widespread unhappiness about litter, homelessness and panhandling.

"I know a lot of folks who just don't want to come out of their houses," he said.

Another big issue is development. Ward 2 contains the big downtown office buildings that sprung up during the Barry years, but now the development has begun to encroach on the neighborhoods -- causing considerable unhappiness, especially around Dupont and Logan circles and Foggy Bottom.

Jarvis and Dixon showed up at a Dupont Circle rally several weeks ago to protest Riggs Bank's plans to erect a large office building there, but most activists say no one candidate stands to benefit from the latent uneasiness over development.

Population (1988): 80,900

Blacks: 46 percent

Whites: 43 percent

Hispanics: 8 percent

Median Income (1986): $23,000

Registered Voters: 36,670

Democrats: 25,214

Republicans: 5,166