The Legacy of Lynn Jenkins

Published: May. 8, 2018 at 6:18 PM CDT
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After 20 years in public service, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins is retiring from politics.

Colleagues on both sides of the aisle say she’s worked to better the state.

But Rep. Jenkins, R-Kan., doesn’t like to take credit for her work on Capitol Hill.

"It's a team effort,” she said. “Everyone pulls in the same direction. We have some of the sharpest, most hard working Kansans in this office in D.C. and at home in our two district offices."

Jenkins’ first stints in public service didn’t come with a staff, but she took them just as seriously.

"My first elected office was the treasures of Prince of Peace preschool. Went on to president of the PTO at Jay Shideler Elementary. Those jobs were just as important as what I'm doing today," she detailed.

Those beginnings led Jenkins to a seat in the Kansas House in 1998. Two years later, a seat in the state Senate, then the State Treasurer’s Office a year later, where she served 5 years. In 2008, she defeated incumbent Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., for the second district Congressional seat.

Now retiring from politics, she hopes her time in office has inspired women.

“We have something to offer. We've got a lot of problems in this country and it's going to take both genders to working together because we all have different skill sets to solve them," she said.

She says she never looked at her work as a male or female issue.

"Except for football,” she chuckled. “I tried to go out for football at Holton high School. I was told no, so they let me go out for the boys cross country football team. That is probably the only time in my lifetime that I've been told I couldn't do something because of my gender. So I don't get caught up in it. If I felt like I had something to offer, I go for it. Just because I'm a girl, I don't think it matters."

And she went for it.

"We worked together for the congressional gold medal for Bob Dole. She started that effort. I was able to get every Senator to sign on that bill," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

"People could talk to her. She ran a good constituent services office and I think at the end of the day that kind of public service is enormously appreciated by the citizens of this state, and certainly by me," complimented former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kan.

"She's been a very active participant over the years,” detailed Re. Ron Estes, R-Kan. “In fact she still is. Even though this is her last term, she's looking at things like dialysis certification, and improving the IRS and making sure we get the tax cuts and jobs acts done.

"She achieved a leadership position in the house. I also think it's also valuable when there are more women in public life and public service. Even that is a detriment as Lynn Jenkins retires from congress," said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

So why leave?

"I've done enough in government work. But there's also the fact of just the frustration. I mean people are frustrated with government these days whether it's in Kansas or at the federal level. It's gotten mean and nasty."

Her colleagues say she will be missed.

"I think she's been a great ally and friend," said Sen. Moran.

"Lynn Jenkins did a wonderful job for us," smiled Sen. Roberts.

The Congresswoman says she's not exactly sure what she's going to do when she comes home, but has renewed her CPA licenses.

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