"You are right," writes J.T.R. "Just before election day, the politicians all love us and tell us how well they're going to serve us.

"Every blessed one of them favors greater efficiency in government. They're all pledged to give us more service for less money. Not one among them says he thinks taxes ought to be raised to finance huge new spending programs.

"In fact, there was such unanimity of opinion among the candidates on Tuesday that two thirds of the nation's voters didn't even bother to go to the polls. It didn't appear to make much difference which of these fine candidates would win.

"Now that the election is over, one disturbing doubt lingers in my mind: Is there any reason to expect that the candidates elected this time will be any better than the selfish, cynical, ambitious and insensitive politicians who were elected last time and the time before that and the time before that - and then failed us?"

I am afraid J.T.R. has a good point. Politicians love us dearly in November, but by January their love has usually cooled. And by April they have little time to serve the public because they're so busy serving their own interests first.

During the campaign, Marion Barry struck a responsive chord with his frequent criticism of uncivil servants who are rude and unresponsive to taxpayer requests for information or help. I think that point alone won many votes for him.

In the months ahead, it will be interesting to see how much emphasis Mayor Barry will put on improving the attitude of municipal workers - and how much attention his hired hands will pay to him.

It would be nice to think that this time an election really will produce a significant improvement in the quality of government service, but experience suggests that we await the future with more realistic expectations.