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Now that her children are grown and living their lives, Kathy Keenan-Swanson said she’s ready to take on another calling.The head teller at $76 million Southwest Montana Community Federal Credit Union was recently selected as one of three finalists to fill the seat of Montana State Rep. Dan Villa (D). Villa, who has served as a state representative since January 2005, officially stepped down on June 19 after Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer appointed him education policy advisor.“I took the time to raise my children. I’m a little older, I am able to step back and look. Now is the time for my voice to be heard,” said Keenan-Swanson, who is the mother of four.The Montana native is no stranger to speaking out on issues. She has served on the local planning, tax appeal and zoning boards. Her political ties are also strong. From 1964 to 1972, her father, P.J. Keenan served as a Montana state senator. Her sister, Nancy Keenan, was elected superintendent of public instruction in the Treasure State and in 2000, ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kathy’s daughter Dayna Swanson is the deputy state director for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).Villa confirmed with Credit Union Times that Keenan-Swanson was picked from a pool of six candidates by the Democratic Party for Deer Lodge and Granite counties. Keenan-Swanson would have to run for election in November 2010 for the House District 86 seat for Montana’s legislative session, which starts in January 2011, Villa said. As chairman of the Anaconda-Deer Lodge Democratic Central Committee, Villa said he recused himself from the recent candidate interview process.Keenan-Swanson said Montana, like other states, is in the throes of an economic crisis. “I see a lot of poverty, a lot of people struggling. There are environmental issues, and I am worried about energy. Montana is suffering, but there are things we can do to work around that,” Keenan-Swanson said, adding she is “very cautious about stimulus funds that come here if they aren’t spent correctly.”Villa chaired the state House’s rules committee and joint appropriations subcommittee on education. He was also a member of the appropriations committee. Keenan-Swanson said because this is a filler term, more than likely the successful candidate will step into Villa’s seats on these committees.Keenan-Swanson said Montana has a strong affinity for credit unions. “People love them here. The Democratic party supports credit unions. What I would bring to the table is, quite frankly unknown because I’m not sure about the bills” that would be on the table should she be chosen to fill Villa’s legislative seat.Keenan-Swanson is a proponent of job creation. She recently saw firsthand how employment can revive a community when Southwest Montana Community FCU held the grand opening for its Anaconda branch. The 8,300-square-foot building has three-drive up lanes, a drive-up ATM lane and features a mural drawn by a local artist of the Anaconda Smelter, BA&P Railroad and other area icons.“It was a real boost to the community because it put people to work for about a year. It’s been a real asset.”The Montana Credit Union Network is thrilled that Keenan-Swanson has been selected, said Beth Satre, director of communications and public relations.“It’s a great chance for her and a great opportunity for the state. As an Anaconda native and a long-time staff member at the local credit union, she knows the community, its people and their needs from top to bottom,” Satre said. “She’s been working for credit union members all these years, it’s time the rest of the state benefited from her knowledge and expertise.”Keenan-Swanson said a final commissioners’ meeting is scheduled to take place soon to determine who will be the candidate chosen to fill Villa’s seat. The other finalists are former state legislator Red Menahan and businessman Jim Jenner. Meanwhile, she admitted being taken aback by the amount of publicity she’s received.“I’m kind of astounded that people outside of Montana are interested in this,” she chuckled.–[email protected]

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