Ward 1 is geographically the smallest ward in the District, but it remains the city's great melting pot -- the heart of Latino Washington, highly prized in citywide elections.

Divided by 16th Street NW and a crossroads for the entire city, Ward 1 is the political base of Democratic mayoral candidate David A. Clarke, the chairman of the D.C. Council.

Clarke, who lives in the ward's Mount Pleasant neighborhood, must do more than hold his own there if he is to do well in the mayoral primary on Tuesday. Clarke can expect intense competition in the ward from John Ray and Charlene Drew Jarvis, observers say.

"John has captured the lion's share of the longtime organizers, both east and west of 16th Street," said Jim Harvey, a D.C. Council candidate who has lived in the ward for most of his 22 years here.

Ray has told some associates that the white community in Ward 1 is one of the weak links in his citywide strategy. Harvey, a longtime Democrat who is running for the council as an independent, said Ray has spent considerably more time in the ward in the final stages of the campaign.

Jarvis has courted the Hispanic community more aggressively than any of her rivals, although Walter E. Fauntroy counts several leading business people as his supporters.

Frank Smith Jr., who has held the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. Council since 1983, faces a familiar primary opponent in Richard M. Landis, who challenged Smith four years ago.

Democratic Party leaders said the Landis campaign has not caught fire, but will be the beneficiary of protest votes against Smith, who many activists say has lost touch with voters, particualarly on such issues as the Metro construction through Shaw.

In the race for D.C. delegate, Ward 1 is shaping up as a battleground between Betty Ann Kane and Eleanor Holmes Norton, who have appealed to younger Democrats.

Issues are those of any setting where residential neighborhoods bump against a constant tide of commuters, the desires of small-business owners, an influx of immigrants and problems such as homelessness and drugs.

On the ward's more affluent west side, parking and neighborhood services, including hardware stores and pharmacies, are in high demand, while on the east side, residents have complained about the influx of homeless people and residential group homes.

In between are major arteries for thousands of Maryland commuters, who help produce the wear and tear on Ward 1 streets that residents say need more attention. "A lot of people don't have respect for our streets," Harvey said. "Ward 1 is too often the dumping ground for other people's litter."

Population (1988): 77,500

Blacks: 57 percent

Whites: 30 percent

Hispanics: 16 percent

Median Income (1986): $18,900

Registered Voters: 36,258

Democrats: 27,841

Republicans: 2,882