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New Liberty Lake mayor Cris Kaminskas hopes to focus on collaboration, community engagement

Jan. 9, 2021 Updated Sat., Jan. 9, 2021 at 10:23 a.m.

The new mayor of Liberty Lake is Cris Kaminskas. She was sworn in on Tuesday night after being a city councilwoman for 11 years.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
The new mayor of Liberty Lake is Cris Kaminskas. She was sworn in on Tuesday night after being a city councilwoman for 11 years. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

If just a year ago Cris Kaminskas had been asked to become Liberty Lake’s mayor, she may not have said yes.

Kaminskas, 50, said the past year has thrown her several challenges: she has had to find a senior living facility for her parents and send her 18-year-old son off to college, all while dealing with the pandemic. She said when she found out former mayor Shane Brickner was going to resign, she realized that now was likely the right time for her to step up, and she was the right person for the job.

“I know the players, I knew who does what,” she said. “My goal is to build on those relationships, continue to support the staff and continue to inform the community what is going on and respond to their concerns.”

Kaminskas was sworn in as Liberty Lake’s fourth mayor on Tuesday and was chosen by her fellow council members. Her term will last about 10 months, ending once the results of the 2021 November election are certified. Kaminskas, who has been a city councilwoman for almost 11 years, said she plans to run for mayor in November and hopes to serve the rest of Brickner’s term.

City council members chose between her and fellow council member Mike Kennedy, who is mostly retired and has owned several local businesses, including an RV dealership. Kaminskas won the vote after she was nominated by council member Hugh Severs and received four of seven votes.

In the meeting, Severs said most of the staff already respect and have relationships with Kaminskas, and she was the best person for the job. He also noted her regular community engagement through Facebook and availability to answer constituents questions, such as by going to the farmers market regularly.

“I strongly support Cris and I think she would do a wonderful job in the interim,” Severs said.

During the city council meeting where Kaminskas was chosen for mayor, a swell of community members called in to voice their support for her, including many who said they met her at the farmers market, several of her current coworkers and former mayor Brickner.

“I think Cris is very well-balanced and I think she would do a phenomenal job, and I support her greatly in her efforts to sit in on this role,” Brickner said.

Brickner announced he was resigning on Dec. 30 for health reasons. He was the mayor for one year after beating a near-15-year incumbent .

Kaminskas is a team lead for western sales operations at TierPoint, a data security company in Liberty Lake. She is married to Scott Kaminskas and has one son. Her father, Bob Moore, has also served on Liberty Lake City Council.

She said she’s been interested in government since she was a child, after watching her father, then a city council member in the Cincinnati area, serve. Kaminskas moved to Liberty Lake from the Cincinnati area in 2006 to take a job at Keytronic, a telecommunications company in Spokane Valley.

She tried twice for a seat on Liberty Lake City Council before she succeeded, unsuccessfully seeking an appointment to a vacant seat and later losing an election by 100 votes. She was appointed to a seat on Liberty Lake City Council in 2010 and won an election to continue serving in 2011.

“It took a little bit,” she said. “But I’m persistent.”

Kaminskas said she already knows many of the city staff after more than a decade on the city council and almost 15 years of living in Liberty Lake, but she also is a similar leader to Brickner and hopes those factors will create a smooth, seamless transition.

“We have very similar management style in supporting the staff and giving them the tools to do their job and giving them the support,” she said. “If the mayor or any supervisor is not giving the tools to grow, they’re not doing their job.”

Kaminskas said as mayor of Liberty Lake for the next 10 months, she plans to oversee progress on many of the city’s biggest upcoming projects, including changes at the Liberty Lake Library and a new building at Trailhead Golf Course.

When Kaminskas was sworn in as mayor, her city council seat was vacated. The city council has 90 days to fill that vacancy and will discuss it at its next meeting.

This story was corrected on Saturday, January 9 to reflect that a new building could be built at Trailhead Golfcourse instead of a new trailhead being developed in Liberty Lake.

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