As a member of the Liberty Lake City Council for nearly seven years, Patrick Jenkins had the opportunity to be a part of the early growth and development in Spokane County’s easternmost city.
Sometimes the work required hours of deliberation over ordinances that would shape the city’s future – other times it involved a simple walk in the park.
Jenkins tells the story of attending an event one summer in Pavillion Park, Liberty Lake’s prized greenspace, when his wife overheard a senior resident express concern about the lack of a safe and convenient transition from a walkway to the parking area. That week, Jenkins raised the issue at City Hall and soon the curb had been modified to provide safe passage for those using walkers or wheelchairs.
“I really enjoyed having the ability to make a positive difference,” Jenkins said. “If citizens have a problem, they can address it and the city will follow through.”
Jenkins was appointed to the City Council in March 2003, replacing Scott Bernhard who had recently moved outside city limits. Jenkins ran unopposed on the ballot that November, earning a four-year term. He won again in November 2007.
Last week, Jenkins announced that he would be stepping down from Liberty Lake’s governing board because of an impending move to Utah. A financial advisor with Spokane-based DeMars Financial, Jenkins will be opening a branch of the company in Logan, Utah, about 90 miles outside of Salt Lake City.
“This is a good thing for the office, a great opportunity,” Jenkins said. “But it’s also been very emotional. People here are so nice – that’s why we’ve stayed in Spokane.”
A native of Utah, Jenkins earned a degree in political science from Utah State in 1998 and moved to Spokane with his wife and kids in 1998. He emerged with an MBA from Gonzaga University in 1999 and signed on with Liberty Lake-based Telect as a product manager. Jenkins worked for Telect until 2006 when he left for DeMars.
Jenkins was involved in the campaign for Liberty Lake cityhood after moving to the unincorporated area from Spokane in 2000. He helped with a finance subcommittee prior to incorporation in August 2001, volunteered at civic events and worked with a group called Friends of the Library that established a municipal library independent of the Spokane County Library District.
When the City Council seat opened in 2003, Jenkins was one of half-a-dozen candidates interviewed for the job. He was approved by a 4-2 council vote.
“Patrick was excellent,” said former Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson. “He was detail oriented and had great insight, someone you could count on to lead. Some council members will pick up their packet a half hour before the meeting but others like Patrick will have it by Friday and study it over the weekend. He was always prepared to discuss the issues.”
Looking back on his tenure, Jenkins said he is proud of certain city accomplishments such as establishing municipal golf course, developing an independent police department and municipal library as well as setting aside a portion of the revenue from sales tax for street maintenance. He pointed to people like Peterson, developer Jim Frank and incorporation advocate Lud Kramer as civic pillars who helped provide a solid foundation for Liberty Lake.
“As a City Council member, I was just one of seven,” Jenkins said. “We’ve been lucky to have a great city staff.”
Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman, one of three remaining representatives of the original council, said Jenkins’ thorough approach to city leadership will be missed.
“I have great respect for Patrick and everything he’s contributed,” Van Orman said. “I would hope that every council member would have that kind of knowledge.”
Jenkins had two years remaining as part of his current term. The city put out a notice about the position last week and will conduct interviews at a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2 beginning at 6 p.m. Van Orman said she expected to have a new council member named by the end of the evening.
Council Member Judi Owens, who has served on the council since 2001, expressed hope that Jenkins’ replacement would have the “same sense of service and commitment that Patrick and the original council had.”
“Patrick has been a valuable member of the council,” Owens said. “He was someone who had a mind for details and helped us have some meaningful discussions. He’s contributed a lot to this community.”