Only one thing is certain about the next mayor of the nation's capital: It will not be Marion Barry.

He has had a turbulent run spanning most of the past two decades, interrupted by six months in prison for cocaine possession that gained him national notoriety. By January, Barry will have left an office that Congress stripped of most powers three years ago as Washington teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.The capital's economic fortunes have rebounded since the White House and Congress pushed through a bailout last summer that shifted most costs for prisons, Medicaid and pensions to the federal government.

"The next mayor will have to be in tune with Congress, somebody who's willing to work with them. In the past it hasn't been that way," said Michael White, a 36-year-old Washingtonian.

The apparent front-runner in the crowded field in the Sept. 15 primary is former city finance chief Anthony Williams, who carried out many of the economy moves.

Barry, 62, has not yet embraced any of the candidates.