Ruth Ann Swaney

With her appointment to fill the vacant Ward 2 City Council seat in January, Ruth Ann Swaney became the first Native American woman to serve on the council. "As a Native person," Swaney says, "if you want to see more representation, you have to throw your hat in the ring. I want to see Native people as part of Missoula." She announced this week her coming resignation to move home to North Dakota.

Applications are open to any Ward 2 residents interested in serving on the Missoula City Council as of Tuesday night.

Representative Ruth Swaney, who was appointed in January, announced her resignation last week and officially will vacate her seat on Tuesday, Nov. 7, according to an email from city clerk Marty Rehbein.

Information for interested applicants is on the city’s website, or available in person from the city clerk’s office at City Hall on Ryman Street. Applications can be submitted electronically or in person.

Applications are due Friday, Oct. 20, at 10 a.m. and applicants will be selected by the City Council during its meeting Monday, Oct. 23.

The rest of the schedule, as outlined in Rehbein’s email, follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: Selected applicants receive written questions from the city clerk.
  • Wednesdays, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1: Committee of the Whole interviews applicants in person.
  • Thursday, Nov. 2: Written answers due at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 6: City Council votes on a new representative during Monday night meeting.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8: The newly sworn in Ward 2 representative joins the council’s weekly committee meetings.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote and have lived in Ward 2 for 60 days or longer.

Ward 2 encompasses the Westside, Grant Creek and Captain John Mullan neighborhoods. Exact borders can be found on the city's website by navigating to the Your Government tab and clicking on Ward Map. 

City Council members are paid $1,249.23 a month and are eligible for city benefits.

The appointed council member would serve until the first Monday of January, 2020, according to Rehbein’s email. The seat will be open in the fall 2019 election.

Swaney is the first Native American woman to serve on the Missoula City Council and just the second Native American after Patrick Weasel Head, who was appointed to finish a term in 2015.

Swaney's fellow council members appointed her based on their desire to have a voice and viewpoint that’s underrepresented on City Council.

"Liberty and justice for all is an aspirational statement, and Dr. Swaney works tirelessly to turn that aspiration into enduring reality," Ward 2 representative Jordan Hess said when she announced her resignation.

Swaney is leaving Missoula for North Dakota to work for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in the tribal education department.

Hess is running unopposed this year and will serve until 2022. Swaney was unopposed for her seat after Jack Metcalf dropped out earlier in the race.

Metcalf was among five applicants, including Swaney, who were up for the position last winter, along with former state legislator Gail Gutsche and retirees Roger Seewald and Mike Curran.

Swaney was appointed to fill out Harlan Wells’ full term. Wells left last January to work for Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.

The applications can be found on the city’s website or by going to ci.missoula.mt.us and finding the Ward 2 Appointment link in the bottom right corner of the main page. 

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