Democratic mayoral nominee Sharon Pratt Dixon took her campaign to Capitol Hill yesterday, meeting with congressional leaders, including House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, who hinted that he might support an increase in the federal payment to the District after the election.

"We do need to review the level of the federal payment," Foley (D-Wash.) told reporters after a brief meeting with Dixon. "I want to be cooperative and helpful."

Foley, Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) and a dozen other members of Congress predicted a new and stronger relationship with the District should Dixon win the mayoral election Nov. 6.

Dixon and her Republican opponent, Maurice T. Turner Jr., have stressed the importance of obtaining an increase in the annual federal payment to the District to deal with the city's mounting deficit.

Dixon and Turner both dismissed criticism by Mayor Marion Barry that their proposals for erasing a projected $90 million to $100 million budget deficit by reducing the size of the bureaucracy were unrealistic.

"I'm not in a debate with the mayor," Turner said. "Obviously, there is bloat in this government. And the proper manner to handle it is to have a hiring freeze."

Dixon pointed to work by the 45-member Commission on Budget and Fiscal Priorities, established by the Barry administration to develop a five-year fiscal plan. A commission subcommittee tentatively concluded that the District work force is top-heavy and should be reduced by 6,212 positions over five years.

Barry's "own commission has suggested that it's more than appropriate," she said.

Meanwhile, Turner savored his endorsement Tuesday night by the Fraternal Order of Police, the labor union for rank-and-file D.C. police officers. is a testament to his 32 years as a police officer, the last eight of them as chief, and a sign that many officers do not believe Dixon would be as tough on crime as Turner has said he will be.

"Ms. Dixon's concept of what it takes to make our city safe just won't work," Turner said. "Her 'root causes' solution of hoops on basketball goals, water in swimming pools and midnight sports leagues is no solution.

"I'm saying Sharon Pratt Dixon is soft on crime," Turner added. "Ms. Dixon has proved she does not understand the complexities of law enforcement."

In another development, Police Lt. Lowell K. Duckett, the head of the 350-member D.C. Black Police Caucus, said his organization also is endorsing Turner over Dixon.

"He's very focused when it comes to crime," Duckett said of Turner.

Dixon sought to play down the FOP endorsement yesterday by noting that the union's leadership supports her and that the rank-and-file membership's endorsement was an expected gesture to a former officer by fellow police officers.

Dixon, who began her day at a breakfast with the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO, received an endorsement yesterday by the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25.

She also announced this week that she will make four out-of-town trips in the next 10 days, traveling to Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta for fund-raisers and meetings on urban economic development.

At a forum last night sponsored by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Dixon said she would support a program similar to one recently enacted by the New York City school system that would provide condoms to high school students without parental consent.

Dixon said she would support such a program "provided it's accompanied with public information and education."

She said she believes that the state has a responsibility to educate its youth about safe sex. "By no means am I saying to hand them {condoms} out in the classroom," she said.

Staff writer R.H. Melton contributed to this report.