From Smith Hall to City Hall
Robert Jenkins walked the campus at California Baptist University as a student during the turn of the millenium and now walks the floors of San Bernardino’s city hall as a councilman.
Jenkins earns a living as a special education teacher, but is now splitting his time between the classroom and his office at city hall.
While at CBU, Jenkins served two terms as the Associated Students of CBU (ASCBU) student body president during a pivotal time in CBU history.
“My freshman year it stopped being called CBC and became CBU,” Jenkins said. “When I was here it was just the James building, the Book of Life Wallace Theater, the dorms and Mission Hall.”
During his two years as student body president, Jenkins and the student government worked on bring many changes to the campus.
While Jenkins was in office, the ASCBU increased campus beautification with the addition of the Lancer Arms apartment courtyard. They also installed the USA Today readership program, which is still being used on campus today.
Jenkins found that student government politics had its similarities to city politics, which helped prepare him for his new position.
During both elections at CBU, Jenkins faced the same opponent, who drew support from many members of the student government.
“The executive council was split,” Jenkins said. “So the first year was kind of dicey working through those relationships.”
Problems arose during his terms in office, including an election snafu that resulted in a revote for president for the second term.
“I had been reelected. But the Judicial board threw out the election and we had to hold a totally new election,” Jenkins said.
“So I had to run again and my opponent’s campaign signs were ‘don’t make the same mistake a third time. So when I saw that I said, ‘I don’t even have to campaign. That’s going to turn people off.’”
Despite ugly politics within the student government, Jenkins said that he enjoyed his time at CBU and appreciated the atmosphere within the school.
“It was a small University, an intimate University and I loved it. I have lifelong friends from Cal Baptist. I don’t regret any of those years,” Jenkins said.
As part of ASCBU, Jenkins had the opportunity to work with the Dean of Students, Anthony Lammons, who had a positive impact on his CBU experience.
Lammons said that prior to Jenkins’ role as president, student government played the part of the activities board but Jenkins helped ASCBU transition into what it is today.
“We were making a transition from ASCBU as activities based to ASCBU as representative based and he played a huge role in that. He really wanted to see that happen,” Lammons said.
Jenkins said he was able to connect the lessons he learned from Lammons to problems that need to be solved as a city councilman.
“I learned a lot from him. Watching how he handles situations, whether ASCBU issues or disciplinary issues and how he always handled each issue with respect to the person,” Jenkins said. “I admired that from Anthony Lammons and I took that for my job and as a member of city council.”
Jenkins was sworn into office in August 2011 as councilman of San Bernardino’s Ward 2.
Jenkins said he will not use his newly elected position in city council as a springboard for a mayoral position.
“That was my pledge, not to use this seat as a stepping stone in a couple years for a mayor position,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins defeated former Democratic assemblyman John Longville who was said to be using the position to make a run for the mayor’s office in the near future.
Traditionally, a heavily Democratic area, the results from the Ward 2 election surprised the 31 year-old Republican when the polls closed with a 51.4 percent vote in his favor.
“I figured I was not going to get the support of any labor. At first I was afraid and made a lot of assumptions. I quickly realized that wasn’t the case,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins plans to retire as a teacher and for now has no plans for a higher office.
“For now I’m happy where I’m at. I told my constituents that I’m planning on retiring as a teacher. We shall see in six years what the Lord has in store, Jenkins said.
“But at this point in time I don’t intend on running for higher office.”