Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Friday, December 6, 2019 at 11:51 a.m.
While the Spokane City Council has the final say when it comes to approving ordinances and resolutions, a lot of the legislative heavy lifting happens at the hands of ordinary citizens serving on our boards, commissions and committees.
“Sometimes it just takes the first person to start something to get the ball rolling,” said Jennifer Leinberger, who wanted renovations in Riverfront Park to include resurrecting some of our Expo ‘74 butterflies.
Leinberger knew if she wanted her butterfly idea to take off, she would have to make her case before the Spokane Park Board.
“Like the Park Board, Riverfront Committee; they are also made of citizens who are community-minded, who also want to help. It’s not like you have to put up a fight to make things happen,” Leinberger said of her engagement with board members.
The City of Spokane’s two dozen boards, commissions, and committees govern everything from ethics to how we help the homeless.
The panels also represent great avenues you can take if you are driving for changes and improvements in your neighborhood.
“So, I’m always about let your voice be heard,” said Spokane Tribal member Jamie Sijohn.
Sijohn wanted the public to know more about Chief Spokane Garry, our city’s namesake.
“Why is the river called Spokane River? It’s because of the Spokane Tribe. The original people who were here,” Sijohn explained.
That’s why Sijohn pressed the Park Board to approve erecting a monument in Chief Garry Park detailing the tribe’s history in our community.
“So, if we can continue telling our story through the parks system, like Chief Garry Park, then we need to. And I encourage other tribes to do the same thing,” advised Sijohn.
Sijohn’s success making the Chief Garry monument a reality led to her appointment to the Spokane Park Board. The former journalist thinks one thing that would make our boards, commissions and committees even more effective, is diversity.
Up to this point, Caucasian men have held the majority of seats on these powerful the panels.
So now, there is a push to recruit new members who are more representative of Spokane’s population.
“Because that increased diversity brings different viewpoints, brings different voices to the table. And, those are the voices that we need to hear from. If we’re hearing from the same people all the time, we are not getting the breadth of information and experience that we need to make good decisions,” explained City Council member Lori Kinnear.
Right now, there are almost two dozen vacancies on the city’s boards, commissions and committees.