It’s hard to envy the daily newspaper beat reporter tasked with writing campaign profiles of political candidates—especially candidates running for small time offices. Handcuffed by an institutional culture that discourages the sort of assertive interpretation you’d find in a good magazine profile, such pieces often boil down to little more than: Some people say he’s good! Other people say he’s bad! This reporter has no opinion whatsoever!

All the same, in the Post‘s latest profile from the D.C. Council campaign, it would have been nice to see Ann E. Marimow step up on the particularly inane explanation given by Ward 5 hopeful Tracey Turner for why he’s challenging incumbent Harry Thomas, Jr. Turner got into the race, Marimow writes, after his home near Trinity College was burglarized: “Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who lives nearby in Fort Lincoln, was more responsive than Thomas to the concerns of his neighbors, he said.”

Let’s examine this: The chief law enforcement officer of the city—whose duties, after all, involve actually catching burglars—was a better resource than was Thomas!

Shocking, no? It’s almost as if Thomas’ day job featured tasks totally unrelated to crime-scene response—like, say, “writing and voting on legislation” or “overseeing city agencies.”

Turner’s rationale for running, alas, passes without comment. And Thomas himself probably wouldn’t have anything critical to say about its logic, if not its specifics: Though he touts his aggressive oversight of the city rec department, much of his positioning in Marimow’s piece involves such non-legislative accomplishments as finding cheap hotel rooms for residents who lost power following last month’s thunderstorms. That same constituent-service approach helped his father, Harry Thomas, Sr., win multiple terms in the ward.

Ward 5 voters may well reward such heroics on election day. But at LL Blog, we can still wonder whether expecting elected officials to double as freelance burglary investigators or hotel reservation expediters is any way to run a city.

File photo by Darrow Montgomery