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Hamilton’s maturity as doubtful as his residency

Shawn Vestal
Shawn Vestal

Mark Hamilton sure seems like a nice boy.

Just a super … nice boy.

There are a lot of really solid questions about whether he lives where he claims he lives. There are plenty of pretty strong reasons to doubt that when he says he’s established city residency by living in a dilapidated home without water or furniture he’s being 100 percent … what’s the word? … honest?

But he’s probably a very, very nice boy.

Hamilton is a real estate agent and a pastor who wants to be on the Spokane City Council. He has lived outside the city limits, but now he claims to have made his primary residence at an abandoned-looking home within the city limits at 217 E. Pacific Ave. The law requires that he live there for a year to be eligible for the ballot. He seems not to be living there much, and it has recently seemed like a place that no one’s really living in at all – but hey, Hamilton says he’s living there, and he is, surely, a nice man.

Hamilton’s opponent in the City Council race – if his candidacy survives a legal challenge, that is – is incumbent Amber Waldref. Here is what Hamilton had to say about her in the Inlander this week:

“You can’t help but like Amber. She’s a nice girl, but I believe that her leadership is misguided.”

You can tell he likes Amber – can’t help himself! – because the way you show someone you like her is by calling her a child.

Given how nice she is, Amber’s probably already called him up to say thanks. Or maybe thanks, boy.

Because there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, right? Nothing wrong with one adult calling another adult a child? Nothing creepy and dumb about an adult verbally patting another adult on the head, like some infuriatingly patronizing visitor from a 19th century parlor debate about women’s suffrage?

A nice girl. I know Waldref and can attest to the fact that she’s nice. She’s also more than that: She graduated magna cum laude – nice! – from Georgetown University in 1999. Georgetown, as you may know, is a pretty nice university. She earned a master’s degree from Antioch University.

She’s been a community volunteer with everything from the Spokane Alliance to the Spokane Preservation Advocates to her neighborhood council. She worked for the Lands Council for five years, and she’s been on the City Council since 2009.

Oh, and one more thing: She’s lived in the city of Spokane – i.e., she’s met the minimum requirements for serving in office – for 10 years.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has struggled on this count. The house on Pacific was declared “uninhabitable” last fall by the city. For several weeks of his supposed residency, there was no water service. The place lacked beds, furniture and water fixtures. Hamilton said in April that he didn’t need all that stuff because he’s a tough old backpacker. No water? No problem! He could take baths at a friend’s house, he explained. He claims that the house was his primary residence for the better part of a year, though he voted during that time period at an address outside the city.

A man who was doing volunteer wiring work at Hamilton’s house – who said he considered it “church work” because he was doing it for his pastor – called that into question. He said he’d never seen any evidence that Hamilton was living there and lots of evidence that he wasn’t.

“I’m concerned about why he would be so upstanding in church but not upstanding outside the church,” the man told The Spokesman-Review in April. “The evidence is right there. I don’t want to call him a liar, but the evidence speaks for itself.”

In response, Hamilton called his critic’s mental capacities into question. The man was developmentally disabled, Hamilton told the S-R – using the term “savant.” The man was not to be believed.

Nice.

Hamilton is a 57-year-old man. He was married and divorced. He, presumably, has known other women – you know, adult girls – in his life. He doesn’t appear to have arrived here, blinking and mystified, from an island or a planet or a compound or a time machine. As a pastor, he has, perhaps, become so accustomed to being believed that he has lost the ability to be believable. Based solely on the residency controversy, one might wonder how honorable a public servant he could be. He says on his website, for example, that he’s been a “Spokane resident” for 27 years.

At this point, it’s unclear whether he’ll even manage to stay on the ballot. If he does, it will be interesting to see how well he does with that all-important girls’ vote.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@spokesman.com. Follow him on twitter at @vestal13.


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