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Public service, not self-service, should be the reason to run for City Council

In recent years, some Clyde Hill City Councilmembers have been using their positions of power for personal gain (see linked articles: why are we here, pet projects cost taxpayers $56,000). One candidate asking for your vote in this August Primary Election would continue the tradition of self-service. 

Council candidate Spencer Hamlin recently completed a substantial remodel of his property. Normally, when city codes are changed, nonconforming properties are “grandfathered,” which rightfully protects the homeowner from large expenses outside of their control.

However, when a substantial remodel is done (as of 2021, the substantial remodel threshold was $471,000), homeowners must comply with city codes adopted after their home was originally built. 

One of the items on Mr. Hamlin’s property that wasn’t in compliance was his hedge in the right of way. But, Mr. Hamlin feels he should be above the rules and has so far refused to comply. He has made changing the rules to keep his hedge a central theme of his campaign for city council. In fact, he had an outright lie on his campaign website that read, “Hedges and fences are critical.  They provide privacy and reduce air and noise pollution.  The fence code is outdated and poorly written.  The current city employees want them all cut down.  I do not.” (emphasis added)

City employees do not “want them all cut down” as he claimed. He has since updated that line on his website to now read, “The current city employees want to cut down hedges that don’t block anyone’s view.” This too is not correct, as the City is concerned about safety in the right of way and line of sight. 

The city code for hedges exists for a reason. Hedges that grow too tall or large can impact safety, the line-of-site for cars and pedestrians, block the right-of-way, and the roots can negatively impact utilities and damage sidewalks and roads. Hamlin has been providing public comment to advocate for removing the city codes he doesn’t personally like. Now, he wants you to put him in power so he can do it himself.

Being an elected official is hard work, pays very little, and is often thankless. But people running for those positions know that going in. They should also know that running for office should be about public service, not self-service. Unfortunately, it appears council candidate Spencer Hamlin is running for the benefit of himself, not the community. 

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