Candidate Profiles: Diane Heikkila (R) And Mary Swenson (D) – Cascade County Treasurer & Superintendent Of Schools

Editor’s note: This is another in our series of profiles for local Cascade County candidates. Each county office candidate was given the opportunity to submit, in their own words, a brief profile outlining why they’re running, what party they represent and why they are the best candidate for the position. 

Here are the County Treasurer & Superintendent Of Schools profiles. Republican and incumbent Jamie Bailey is the other candidate and did not respond to our request for a profile.

Diane Heikkila

I am running for the position of Cascade County Treasurer and Superintendent of Schools as a Republican because I believe this department is in desperate need of strong leadership and integrity.  I believe in fairness for both the customer and the employee.  I do not believe it should be so difficult to register a vehicle in Cascade County.  It is rumored to be the most difficult county to register a vehicle in, within the state of Montana.

I was born and raised in Cascade County and am proud of saying so.  I was born in Great Falls, went to junior high and high school in Cascade and have raised two very successful children in Belt.  I have been married to my husband Paul for 33 years.

I am looking to make some very big changes to the Treasurers department if elected. I would like to see two windows as you enter the door for handicapped and single transactions including vehicle renewals, tax payments and questions.  The phone lines  will be answered.  Right now, two people are responsible for not only answering the motor vehicle phone lines but also checking in titles and backing up the clerks at the counter.  Needless to say many calls do not get answered.  I would like to see an additional employee added to the other two and all unanswered calls answered by the Supervisor and the Treasurer if need be. If possible, the employees we have now will be shifted into this position so all employees can fill in when needed.

I would like to see a reader board with updated information added to the waiting area so people don’t stand in a long line to find out they are missing pertinent information.  I would like to see the mail desk moved into the main office instead of in the customer waiting area.  This will give room for two separate lines for customers, single transactions and multiple.  That person will also be able to assist with answering phones.  Employee breaks mandated by the union will be adjusted so half the employees do not go at the same time. Clerks from the back office along with the Supervisor and the Treasurer will fill in for breaks and lunches more readily when needed.

The Motor Vehicle Department is run by the State.  We need consistency on rules according to the State Title and Registration manual.  Right now many rules are inconsistent making it difficult for both the clerk and the customer to complete the new vehicle registration process in one visit to the department.

I have worked at the motor vehicle counter for 2 ½ years and listen to the concerns of the public and the employees.  I am in this race to make a difference for everyone.  We need leadership to achieve efficiency and I believe we can get that without adding new employees to this department.  Please vote for me for Treasurer and help me to make a difference.  Thank you for your support.

Mary Swenson

To see that the office is equipped with well trained employees and is able to remain fully staffed. This will help with citizens wait time and ensure the lines are moving at a more efficient pace. I know there are times this is unavoidable but I would like the people to see that there is progress being made. It has been a problem in this office for a while but I would work to find the solution to cut it down or eliminate it.

I am running as a Democrat because of the party beliefs and I looked at the candidates I know to see what party they belong to.

I have an accounting and a business administration degree. I also have a certificated in governmental accounting. I have a work history with Cascade County for 15 plus years with almost three of those in the Treasurer’s Office. I know the real estate tax software and how the coding works with the accounting software. I assisted with the banking RFP and part of the transition to the new banking. I organized the accounting department of the Treasurer’s Office along with solving other numerous issues that had come up. I take my job seriously and am dedicated to it.

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