At the top of everyone's agenda in Ward 3 is "getting rid of all vestiges of Marion Barry," said one politically active lawyer.
No matter whom residents of this predominantly white area west of Rock Creek Park are supporting for mayor, the lawyer said, they are uniformly angered that Barry is running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.
School board member Linda W. Cropp, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for one of the two at-large council seats up for election, enjoys big support in the ward, while there is also interest in the candidacies of independent Jim Harvey and incumbent council member Hilda H.M. Mason, a Statehood Party member.
Ward 3 council member Jim Nathanson is running unopposed in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Although some Democrats have grumbled that they expected more from Nathanson in his first term, he is widely expected to win in November against Republican Julie Finley and independent Jim Kalish.
Taxes, education and competence in government are high on the list of concerns in Ward 3, which has the highest rate of voter registration in the city and the largest concentration of Republicans and independents. The ward ranks sixth among the eight wards in the number of registered Democrats.
"It's a weird time," said Joel Odum, who heads a neighborhood preservation group that boasts 1,500 members. "Everybody is anticipating a change, and are glad it's coming. They feel something in the air, but they are also feeling that if it's too tumultuous, it might be catastrophic."
Democrat John Ray's name resonates around Ward 3 every time the mayor's race is mentioned, but community activists disagree whether his support is strong or soft.
"A number of people I have talked with have gone with Ray more because of the polls than because of their own gut feeling," said Norm Linsky, chairman of the Ward 3 Democrats who personally is backing Council Chairman David A. Clarke in the mayor's race. "It's soft support that could sway dramatically based on the final debates."
Odum, however, insists that at-large council member Ray "looks real strong. I haven't heard anybody deserting ship. He's holding his troops together."
Pat Elwood, a teacher who is also active with the ward's Democrats, said, "There's a big undecided vote out there. People are just beginning to think about it."
Odum said he has heard a lot of people say they like lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon, "but I don't hear they are going to vote for her."
While Ward 4 council member Charlene Drew Jarvis is generally respected as a "tireless and savvy campaigner," Linsky and several other activists said they don't detect much support for her in Ward 3.
Clarke has "always had a problem, which he has been very candid about," Linsky said.
"People respect his integrity, competence and experience, but have felt all too often that a white candidate cannot win," Linsky said. "That is starting to change. Whether it's a groundswell, though, I don't know."
Del. Walter E. Fauntroy is "absolutely dead," Odum said. "If he gets two votes in Ward 3, I'd think the Second Coming is near." Fauntroy has run a "blatantly racist" campaign, Odum said, that "really infuriates people."
The race for D.C. delegate to Congress is a toss-up between civil rights activist Eleanor Holmes Norton and at-large council member Betty Ann Kane, Elwood said.
"I thought Kane was ahead, but I hear a lot of people saying they're going to vote for Norton," Odum said. "It's hard to say why. I think her reputation is so far ahead of her, they don't even know why they know her."
Population (1988): 77,600
Blacks: 7 percent
Whites: 86 percent
Hispanics: 6 percent
Median Income (1986): $37,700
Registered Voters: 45,345