I have been active in D.C. politics before and since limited home rule. I have served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner and now serve as president of the Woodridge Civic Association. I worked for Clifford Alexander in his bid for mayor, for Sterling Tucker in his bid and for Marion Barry in his most recent reelection campaign.

I have seen them all in closed meetings, on the stump debating issues and in informal discussions with people. And be it honesty, intellect, courtesy and thoughtfulness for people of all walks of life or toughness to stand up for what one believes in, John Ray is a cut above all the aforementioned or anyone else I see in politics.

How, therefore, can William Raspberry write that D.C. Council members John Wilson and John Ray are "lightweight" {op-ed, Sept. 4}? When you look at all of the difficult issues that have come before the council, these two men were either the leaders or played a major role.

For example, the whole debate on drugs and drug pushers was started by John Ray with his mandatory minimum sentencing initiative in 1982. Mr. Ray had the foresight to initiate -- and win approval of -- a South Africa divestiture law that other states and cities look to as their model. He led the effort to renew and revise rent control and developed the Tenant Assistance Program -- the only rent subsidy program in the country that is funded entirely by a local government. The list goes on: Mr. Ray led the effort to give motorists a choice about whether to buy no-fault auto insurance; he won passage of the "lemon law" protection against defective cars; and he hammered out the first major reform of the District's 52-year-old alcoholic beverage control law.

Mr. Ray and Mr. Wilson have been out front on so many issues that they have inevitably lost support at times among those who disagreed with them -- though gaining support from those who saw the issues as they did. But whether they will or can be elected mayor will be decided by the voters, should they choose to run, not by a columnist taking cheap shots unsupported by facts.

HARRY C. WHEELER

Washington