Son's Arrest Steels Kentwood Mayor's Family Stance

Son's Arrest Steels Kentwood Mayor's Family Stance
Posted by FoM on December 01, 1999 at 11:16:48 PT
By Doug Guthrie, The Grand Rapids Press 
Source: Michigan Live
Kentwood Mayor Bill Hardiman has dreaded the day when he would be asked to discuss his son's problems.But he feared that day was inevitable.
On Tuesday, the son of the man who headed a group of local pastors and other leaders to create a marriage policy aimed at strengthening families, was ordered to trial on charges of being a drug dealer and four-time felon.Mark Preston Hardiman, 27, was brought before Grand Rapids District Judge Michael Christensen wearing handcuffs and the green uniform of a Kent County Jail inmate.Until his capture in November by an FBI Fugitive Task Force, the younger Hardiman had been sought on warrants for failure to show up for sentencing in September on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, fleeing police and driving with a suspended license, to which he already had pleaded guilty.Tuesday's charges include another weapons violation as well as possession with intent to deliver cocaine and marijuana. Because of his repeat offender status, Mark Hardiman could face up to life in prison."Mark is my son and I love him," the mayor said. "We have not talked a lot and not at all recently. Because of the situation, I didn't know where he was."Mark Hardiman was captured on Nov. 16 when members of a fugitive task force surveillance unit said they spotted him driving from a home on the city's Southwest Side, and soon found themselves in a foot chase."He slides under a trailer in a parking lot and an officer sees him fumble around in the leaves, then he takes off again. When we catch him he has the drugs in one pocket and nothing in the other pocket," said Dan Lubbers, a Grand Rapids police officer assigned to the multi-jurisdictional team. "We go back to the trailer and there's a gun."Police said Mark Hardiman had three rocks of crack cocaine and four small plastic bags of marijuana.Mark Hardiman has a lengthy criminal record that includes time in prison.His father has worked hard at mustering private and public resources and creating policies to save and support marriages in West Michigan. On Tuesday, he explained that his first child was the product of an unmarried relationship."I've used situations from my own life as motivation for much of what I do," the mayor explained. "I come from a broken home. My parents separated when I was 14 years old. The situation with Mark, all of that, has inspired me to push for better situations for the lives in my own life but also in the lives of others."Mark Hardiman's first conviction for carrying a concealed weapon in Muskegon in 1990 landed the then-18-year-old in a boot camp program. He got busted a year later for cocaine dealing and served almost seven years in prison.He was released in 1998 but was arrested by October of that year in Wyoming for carrying a concealed weapon. Last April, Kentwood police charged him with fleeing from an officer and resisting arrest.He pleaded guilty to both charges, but remained free on bond and never showed up for sentencing in September. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he remained free until his capture in November.Kent County Circuit Judge Robert Benson completed that sentencing on Nov. 17, giving Mark Hardiman prison terms of 2 to 20 years. Now, he faces up to life in prison for his latest offenses because of his status as a four-time felony offender.Mark Hardiman was bound over for trial on the charges Tuesday without a hearing.Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Greg Boer said Mark Hardiman has been offered a deal to plead guilty to the drug and repeat offender charges while others would be dismissed. Mark Hardiman's lawyer, Jason Barrix, said no decision has been made on the offer.Bill Hardiman said his first marriage had dissolved in divorce and Mark Preston Hardiman was born in 1972 to a woman with whom Hardiman had a relationship before meeting his current wife. Bill Hardiman has been married to Clova Hardiman for 26 years. They have a one daughter, Valenta. The former director of Goodwill Industries became Kentwood's mayor in 1992."While he did not grow up in my home, I wanted that very badly early on, but he didn't," the elder Hardiman said. "The things I've spoken for and lived for, I obviously taught to him early on in life. But, about all I could do lately is offer my prayers and work to make a difference in the lives of others whose lives I can affect."Hardiman introduced the idea of promoting a community marriage policy last fall following a model installed in other communities throughout the U.S. He was named chairman of the Greater Grand Rapids Community Marriage Policy Steering Committee. The group of pastors and other community leaders in 1997 drafted a voluntary contract for couples.The concept committed couples to premarital classes to teach communication skills and better understanding of each other. Hardiman encouraged the use of religious-based services."When I discussed the marriage policy, I said this was not a program for perfect people. I have confessed the fact that I have made mistakes in my life too, but have urged others to commit to a higher standard," Hardiman said. "I have been through many of the things I talk about and still am going through many of them."Bill Hardiman declined to discuss his relationship with his son's mother. She remains a Grand Rapids resident, but The Press was unable to contact her Tuesday.Bill Hardiman said he also didn't want to discuss details of his relationship with his son, saying it would be inappropriate."Quite frankly, Mark is 27. He has been making his own decisions for some time," the mayor said. "Mark has to have his day in court. He has to deal with these issues like everyone else would. I love my son but I also believe in the law, and he will abide by the law. Still, it doesn't stop a father from loving his son." Published: December 1, 1999Copyright 1999 Michigan Live Inc. 
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