James P. Moran Jr. says he will resign as Alexandria mayor effective Jan. 3, clearing the way for Vice Mayor Patricia S. Ticer (D) to become acting mayor through June.

By resigning less than 180 days before the next scheduled council election in May, Moran, who upset U.S. Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) on Tuesday, allows the city to avoid holding a special election to replace him under the city charter.

The charter says that in those circumstances, the vice mayor becomes acting mayor unless that person declines.

Ticer made it clear yesterday that she won't decline. "Yes, I would very much like to do the job," Ticer said. "It will be a hot seat, but I think that it will be to my liking." She said she probably will run for mayor next spring.

Ticer appears positioned to make a strong bid for the job in Alexandria, a Democratic stronghold where six of the council's seven members are Democrats. Ticer already has the support of several of her council colleagues. City Democratic Party Chairman Mike Reid said yesterday he doesn't anticipate any opposition from within the party.

Ticer, a former real estate agent, has been on the council since 1982 and has been vice mayor for five years. She has been an officer of several parent-teacher organizations and is vice chairman of the state Council on Day Care and Childhood Development. Ticer's husband, Jack, served three terms on the Alexandria council.

City Republican Party Chairman Mike Holm said he expects the GOP to field a candidate for mayor, although no one has formally announced. Former council member Carlyle "Connie" Ring Jr., a Republican, said yesterday he is considering a bid for council or the mayor's office.

If the vice mayor becomes acting mayor, the council must choose a new vice mayor from among its members, according to the city charter. The city's chief circuit court judge must then select someone to fill the vacant council seat for the unexpired term.

Two council members have been mentioned as possible candidates for vice mayor: Democrats Redella "Del" S. Pepper and Lionel R. Hope, who is not expected to seek reelection.

In the past, the council generally has selected the top vote-getter in the last election to be vice mayor, meaning that Pepper would get the position. However, several council members are considering Hope, in part because he has been on the council nearly a decade. Pepper said yesterday that she probably would nominate Hope, who would become the city's first black vice mayor.