Nancy Lord is the Libertarian candidate for mayor of Washington.

She is the only candidate to have released a detailed plan for balancing the D.C. budget and cutting D.C. taxes. This won her the cover story of the local weekly City Paper (Oct. 25), but barely a word from the local network affiliates or The Washington Post or The Washington Times.

Nancy Lord is the only mayoral candidate proposing returning control of D.C. public schools to the parents by allowing parents to choose which schools their children will attend, by allowing principals and teachers at the level of the individual school to test which curriculum parents think best and by funding each school on the basis of how many pupils it can attract. Nancy Lord's plan to infuse into public schools the same competitive ethos that has made American universities the best in the world has gained her weekly attention in the Washington Afro-American but nary a peep from the local network affiliates or The Post or The Washington Times.

Nancy Lord was endorsed by the Congress on Racial Equality, and she received a higher rating from the Gay and Lesbian Activists' Alliance than did Democrat Sharon Pratt Dixon. This week the Organization of Vendors for Economic Cooperation endorsed Nancy Lord because of her call for an end to regulations that are destroying small businesses and the opportunity for self-employment.

Last week a multi-partisan group of gay Democrats, Republicans and Independents ran an advertisement endorsing Nancy Lord in the local gay newspaper, The Washington Blade. But despite the respect these groups give her innovative plans for widening economic opportunity and her superior stands on civil rights and civil liberties, we hear nothing about her from the local affiliates or The Washington Post.

If Nancy Lord receives just 3 percent of the votes Nov. 6, the Libertarians will win a permanent line on the ballot. This would mean that another perspective would be more readily made available to voters in future elections. It would mean that the thought police who are employed as program directors for the local televised debates would have to find a new excuse for protecting establishment candidates from competition rather than say as they currently do: "Yes, yes, we know Nancy Lord has raised thousands of dollars, aired dozens of TV ads, been endorsed by a variety of groups, had volunteers distributing thousands of brochures door-to-door, marched in scores of parades and spoken before community groups and forums daily for two months -- but she doesn't have permanent ballot status."

Ultimately it means that a Libertarian might be elected to the at-large D.C. Council seat, where he or she would provide the needed check on the Republicans' and Democrats' tendencies to pick our pockets (and I say this as a voter registered with one of the two established parties and who has voted only for Democrats or Republicans for the past decade).

If Nancy Lord gets her 3 percent of the vote, she will have done it with far less than 3 percent of the coverage from the local network affiliates or The Post or The Washington Times. If that happens, I hope the journalists involved can rise to the challenge of intellectual honesty and reflect on the limits of their objectivity and their imaginations.