Six members of the Overland Park City Council called for their fellow member Scott Hamblin to resign his Ward 6 seat in the wake of a domestic battery charge filed against him July 22.
Saying the charges point to conduct unbecoming of a city representative, the six said Hamblin’s pending court case would make it difficult for him to perform his duties while defending himself. Beyond that, several said even being charged puts the city in a bad light.
“He has put a stain on the city of Overland Park,” said Councilmember Chris Newlin. “We are no longer the greatest place to raise a family as long as someone charged with domestic battery sits on this dais.”
However, Hamblin, who spoke only briefly at the meeting, indicated he didn’t plan to step down.
“Just let me be clear,” he said. “I will not be resigning my position and I will continue to serve my constituents and have no further comment at this time.”
Councilmember Faris Farassati also read a letter from Hamblin’s wife, Curstin, that supports him staying on the council. “My husband is a dedicated servant to the people of Overland Park, and he has my full support to continue with his elected official duties,” the letter said. Calls for Hamblin to resign were “harassment,” and politically motivated, it said.
Hamblin was booked into Johnson County Jail after police were called to his home July 21. According to a published report police reported damage to drywall but no injuries. He was charged with domestic battery, a Class B misdemeanor, and has a Sept. 16 court date.
The council members spoke out shortly after the meeting began, after Councilmember Fred Spears yielded his report time so they could address concerns they said they’d heard from constituents.
‘Cloud hanging over this governing body’
Councilmember Paul Lyons said the charges Hamblin is accused of go against the recently enacted council ethics code of trust and dignity in members. “There’s a cloud hanging over this governing body as a result of the serious lack of judgment by one of its members,” he said. Councilmember Stacie Gram added that Hamblin should have due process, but remaining on the council while defending his case would make it difficult for him to have input on the policing issues being considered on the public safety committee, where he is a member, or mental health task force. She added that council members should be role models for the community.
Councilmember Curt Skoog and Holly Grummert said the burden of a court case will make it difficult for Hamblin to carry out his duties. “This is about the city of Overland Park and the ethics we expect our council members to have,” Skoog said.
Councilmember Logan Heley echoed those concerns. “Scott Hamblin has lost the moral authority to serve our community and should resign from the Overland Park City Council immediately,” Heley said.
Newlin said the fact that Hamblin had been arrested and charged was significant in itself. “I don’t care whether he’s guilty or innocent. I support women and I don’t put up with domestic violence of any kind and if anyone on the council ever is accused of that I will have the exact same comments as I do tonight,” he said.
Of the 12-member council, the six who directly asked for Hamblin’s resignation were Lyons, Skoog, Gram, Grummert, Heley, and Newlin. Councilmember Tom Carignan called for elected officials to “live the ideas we strive for as a city,” but did not call for his resignation, nor did Spears.
Councilmember Jim Kite did not offer an opinion on resignation either. “My wife and I prayed over this every night for days,” Kite said. “I’m grieved this happened and hopeful that everybody involved can come out whole at some point.” Councilmember John Thompson did not speak on the question.
However Farassati, who has been a frequent ally of Hamblin on tax incentive votes, objected to the council making such statements before Hamblin’s case has been decided in court.
“It’s not our duty to get ahead of the legal system,” he said. “I am surprised at the lack of judgment of my peers who have jumped the gun.”
Farassati warned councilmembers to avoid premature and illogical judgements. “I do not need to defend Scott Hamblin,” he said, noting Hamblin will have his day in court. “But I need to defend the ethical purity of this council.”
Skoog countered that the council members were not inserting themselves into Hamblin’s family dispute. “I don’t need you warning me about anything,” Skoog said. “We have done nothing tonight that is out of line or out of order.”