Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Mayor Maike has deep Medical Lake roots

New face of the city has been a resident for nearly 50 years


January 11, 2018

Medical Mayor Shirley Maike

As things turn out, it might have been difficult to find a person to become Mayor who has better knowledge of Medical Lake than Shirley Maike.

For starters, consider her 20 years as a member of the City Council, a possible record for longevity, Maike claimed. But then she's also been a resident of the town for practically 50 years and spent almost 40 years employed there, too.

"We moved to Medical Lake when I was 16, my dad was in the Air Force," Maike said. A member of the Medical Lake High School class of 1972, upon graduation she attended Spokane Community College where she earned a legal secretary's certificate.

Maike worked a short time for a Spokane law firm before joining the state of Washington and embarking on her career at Eastern State Hospital that concluded a couple of months short of 40 years in June 2013. "I retired as the Chief Operations Officer," Maike said. "I worked my way up the system."

Just like the city she has watched change over the better part of a half century, Maike's career in mental health did as well.

"When I first started in the 70s it was 'de-institutionalization,' nobody goes in the hospital,'" Maike explained. "But there's a component of the population that sometimes they need hospitalization," she added.

What's best for the individual may not be what is best for the world she said.

Retirement did not suit Maike very well so it was not long before she was back in the field of mental health. This time it was in the private sector with Passages Family Support, an outpatient, consumer-run mental health agency.

"It's cutting edge," Maike said. "Passages serves a lot of kids," in a business that is far too complex and unfortunately way too busy these days.

Maike began her local government involvement on the Medical Lake Police Civil Service Commission. From there it was a seat on the Planning Commission.

"I used to go to the council meetings, most times I would be the only person in the audience," Maike said. A vacancy presented itself and Maike said she was invited to be on the other side the table.

"That was in February of '97 I think and I ran for office unopposed," a trend that ended this past November when she defeated Mikael Suniga for mayor, earning almost 56 percent of the vote when all ballots were finally tallied.

Maike never sought to run for Mayor in the past, a decision tempered by two things, her regular work schedule, plus the man she replaced - three-term guy, John Higgins - "Did a great job," she said.

"When he decided to retire, 'I guess it was my turn,'" Maike said.

As Maike moves a seat to the left on the council dais she takes over a role as an elected official that has the power to be an agent of change. But there may not be much of that to do.

"I think we're a very stable community," Maike said. "Somebody said to me the other day, 'People must like living here because there are almost no houses for sale, and when they do go up for sale they sell extremely quickly."

She thinks that Medical Lake is in better shape than a lot of other small communities," Maike said. "You know Waverley, Rockford, Latah, all those communities, are struggling," she added.

That's primarily because of the proximity of the state institutions - Eastern State and Lakeland Village - which produce regular traffic in and out of the city, driving a certain amount of commerce. There are no infrastructure priority concerns, and that has been the case for quite a while, Maike said. Plus, the wastewater treatment plant and city wells are in good shape, she added.

She foresees few changes in the coming months, but is focusing on one notable mission.

"One of the things I have been talking with (City Administrator) Doug (Ross) about is we've got that huge room up in City Hall," Maike said, indicating the wish to make it more useful, specifically to senior citizens.

She is looking for someone to take on the role as a volunteer to turn that space into a fully-functioning senior center. Maike will introduce the idea at an upcoming food bank meeting.

Maike is married to Gerry Schmoker who is set to retire this month. The couple has no children, "Childless by choice," Maike said.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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