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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Council candidate’s residency dispute alarming

In that ongoing comedy called Spokane politics, a new star is rising.

His name is Mark Hamilton.

He’s a pastor and real estate agent, which is sort of like a nun being a part-time pole dancer.

Anyway, Hamilton is engaged in the usual campaign for City Council, spouting big ideas, planting signs and hitting up suckers for money.

Yet controversy over where the candidate lays his head at night is threatening to scuttle Hamilton’s run.

Not to get overly technical, but we have this picky rule for anyone thinking about joining the Council.

Basically, the rule says that if you want to run our city into the ground you have to live here, too.

Hamilton claims he does. He says he’s been living in a two-story yellow and white house that he owns at 217 E. Pacific Ave. since May.

According to George White, a handyman who has been working on the place, the house has no kitchen cabinets, no bathroom sink and would probably be better off bulldozed.

You know, like the Ridpath Hotel.

I checked the place out Wednesday evening, and it struck me as a sort of run-down and partly finished mess.

In Realtor parlance, I think this is called a “fixer-upper with great potential.”

The foundation is exposed. There is building material and clutter strewn about everywhere.

It looked a long way from any place that I’d want to be living in.

White claims he’s been in the joint numerous times and has seen no evidence of anyone making a home there, save for “another man who worked in exchange for being allowed to sleep in an upstairs closet.”

I found that last part really inspirational.

If Hamilton bombs out he could always encourage this closeted individual to run for council.

Anyone used to living in such cramped and meager quarters as a closet could probably be trusted with managing our tax dollars.

Hamilton defended himself by telling the newspaper that you “can’t take anything George (the handyman) says verbatim.”

That had a familiar ring to it. I’ve thought the exact same thing about practically every politician I’ve ever encountered.

But let’s not get too bogged down in Hamilton’s lodging difficulties or the fact he reportedly voted outside the city last November.

Heck, Mark Hamilton could be the next Honest Abe Lincoln, for all I know.

Thing is, I have this internal alarm that goes off whenever a candidate goes overboard about holding a political office.

Spokane, I believe, would be a whole lot better off if we started applying the same safeguards for electing politicians that we do for owning a handgun.

When you buy a gun in this state you have to fill out some scary-looking paperwork that asks a whole lot of personal questions. Then you have to wait five business days before picking up your gun.

I say anyone running for office should have to go through the same ordeal.

With one exception: My candidate waiting period would be five weeks, not five days.

That would give investigators enough time to call all the mental institutions, ex-wives, former cellmates, tattoo artists and anyone else who might give the voters a clearer picture regarding a candidate’s propensity for deceit or psychotic outbursts.

Unfortunately, we’ve already elected too many nut jobs and swindlers for that ever to happen.

Oh, I’m sure Hamilton’s residency issues will get worked out in due time.

And the more I think about it, the more having a pastor on the Council seems like a good idea.

I don’t know if Hamilton’s church is the kind that engages in handling snakes, but that would really be a plus if he ever gets elected.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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