One advocates the decriminalization of drugs. Another briefly tied the District's financial management system in knots. Still another petitioned the United Nations to protest the treatment of Mayor Marion Barry.

There are eight of them in all, independent and minor party candidates for D.C. mayor who have been overshadowed by the Democratic and Republican nominees.

Largely ignored by the news media, they are nevertheless posting placards, knocking on doors, attending forums and running hard for the city's highest office.

Some, like independent Brian Moore, have bitterly complained of being snubbed by the news media and groups sponsoring candidate forums.

Others, like Ike Nahem, an Amtrak engineer, hold no illusions about a possible electoral victory. For Nahem, the campaign offers a "forum for us to get out real alternative ideas."

The eight candidates are: Alvin C. Frost, 43, of the D.C. Statehood Party; Thomas B. Carter, 31; and Moore, 47.

Also, lawyer Mary E. Cox, 49; Nancy Lord, 38, of the Libertarian Party; Nahem, 38, of the D.C. Socialist Workers Party; Bishop Osie L. Thorpe, 58; and Faith, 54, who goes by the single name and tells voters, "Faith can move mountains."

Independent W. Bernell Brooks, 34, dropped out of the race this week.

Frost, a fifth-generation Washingtonian and graduate of Harvard University business school, says his expertise and skills in finance and management give him unmatched qualifications.

In 1986 Frost, then a senior cash-management analyst for the city, wrote an internal memo about the Barry administration's failings. Leaked to the media, it created an uproar. Frost altered a city computer password to keep officials from destroying material he said would help prove his points, and then said he had forgotten the new password. He was later fired.

The doggedly anti-establishment Moore, a onetime Peace Corps volunteer and a former Catholic seminarian, may be a founding father of Washington's relatively young tradition of protest at the polls.

He said he felt vindicated by the 1986 mayoral race in which he collected 3,400 votes against an entrenched Marion Barry, because he stood up and "was willing to say what was wrong." This year, he said, it's the system itself he is going after, not the symptoms.

"I see myself as a protest candidate," Moore said. "If I am elected . . . I would urge memberships of various interest groups to purge their leaderships."

Carter, a physicist, said a politician must be a problem-solver, and that he is one. Carter calls for better schooling that will produce students equipped to achieve. As they do, he says, the city's fiscal problems will take care of themselves.

Cox, the lawyer who defended Barry before and during his drug and perjury trial this summer in the pages of a community newspaper, petitioned the United Nations human rights commission to hear his case.

She said she believed he was being made a scapegoat for the drug problem here and across the nation,and that authorities gave the impression that without Barry, "we would no longer have a drug problem."

Thorpe, bishop of the Solid Rock Church, Disciples of Christ, said that as a child he dreamed of being the mayor of a big city, and that on June 29, the dream recurred.

Thorpe said he has voiced over a loudspeaker mounted on his car such appeals as: "Give me a chance, I'll give you a better city. Give me a chance, I will take the boards off the boarded-up houses. Give me a chance and I will reduce your taxes . . . . "

Lord, a graduate of the University of Maryland's medical school and Georgetown University law school, has broadcast two television commercials, aided by the more than $45,000 that her campaign had raised by early October.

One is about economic development and underscores her call for freeing entrepreneurs from the shackles of bureaucratic harassment and needless regulation. The other asserts that the way to reclaim the streets is to take the profit from drug dealing. A major plank in her program is for regulated legalization of drug use.

"What we have is not working," said the Libertarian Party candidate, "not stopping users from using or sellers from selling."

Nahem, the Amtrak engineer who describes himself as a New York-born Arab Jew who became radicalized in high school in Cincinnati, is chairman of the D.C. Socialist Workers Party.

He said he views the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties as those between the wolf and the fox, and said he would like "the social classes that produce the wealth to be in political power."

Faith is a onetime Broadway and Hollywood performer formerly known as Faith Dane. Among her proposals is use of a variety of arts, cultural and recreational programs to win youths away from drugs.