WE DON'T USUALLY devote this particular space to television highlights, but then Mayor Walter Washington doesn't usually go on television and take calls from the public. That's a genuine highlight, all right, and it's supposed to happen at 8 p.m. Monday on Channel 7. According to station officials, the mayor will appear "live" for a broadcast from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Anacostia. Viewers will be invited to call 432-WJLA with their questions. The press release did not say, however, whether Mayor Washington would answer questions directly or indirectly.

Nevertheless, this is precisely the sort of appearance we've been urging the mayor to make on a regular basis; apparently it's taken it a whirl. There are other ways the mayor could re-establish two-way communications with the people, of course, including regular news conferences. As you may know, he has agreed to this method - may times - it's just that he keeps neglecting to hold the conferences. But now, with an election coming up in less than a year, perhaps people may see more of their mayor and be able to air their concerns a little more directly.

Moreover, as we have suggested before, Mayor Washington may just find that this kind of regular contact can be useful to him as well as to the public - in explaining his programs and hearing what residents perceive as their problems. Other officials around the nation certainly have found this process worthwhile; indeed, nearly all officials hereabouts hold news conferences on a regular basis. Mayor Washington's record on this score is the worst in the region. Nonetheless, wheteher or not his appearance on Monday is the start of a new approach, it'll be good to see him back.