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As state rep, CU employee stresses in-person advocacy
SEATAC, Wash. (1/30/14)--As a Washington state representative and as a credit union employee, Steve Kirby knows the importance of in-person advocacy from both sides of the desk.
Kirby, who is a sales and services specialist for Lakewood-based Harborstone CU, represents Washington's 29th District and serves as chair of the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
Steve Kirby, left, and Vicky Nelson both are Harborstone CU employees. At the Feb. 6 Credit Union Day in Olympia, Wash., Kirby will be busy working as a state representative for the 29th District, and Nelson will be leading a group of advocates from the Lakewood, Wash.-based credit union. (Northwest Credit Union Association photo)
"Credit unions are unique in the world of financial institutions, but that's not always readily apparent to our legislators," Kirby said (Anthem Jan. 28).
"It never hurts for lawmakers to be reminded of the credit union story," he said, "and the best way for politicians to receive any input on any issue is from their own constituents. That's probably the reason credit unions consistently enjoy strong bipartisan support whenever they have issues before the Legislature."
Next week, credit union advocates will be meeting in Olympia for Credit Union Day at the Capitol.
"Every day is someone's 'day on the hill,'" Kirby told the Anthem. "Whether it's the Realtors, the bikers, the physical therapists or the community bankers, everyone wants to be heard. Credit Union Day at the Capitol is very important to insure that the credit union story is heard, too, and that the credit union model remains intact."
Last year, Kirby worked with Vicky Nelson, business sales and services manager, to create a Governmental Affairs Roadshow that stopped at every one of $1 billion-asset credit union's 17 Washington branches. The goal was to make sure that every employee, at every branch, understood the unique structure, value and impact of the credit union movement and why they needed to be active in advocacy efforts.
Nelson will lead a delegation of Harborstone employees to the Feb. 6 event. "As a credit union employee, I am in a wonderfully unique position to share the importance of credit unions not only with our members, but also with our state legislators," Nelson said.
Credit Union Day at the Capitol comes at a time when the Legislature is struggling with budget shortfalls and focusing on tax reform. That makes it imperative that every legislator understands the difference between credit unions and banks and the importance of the credit union tax exemption, said Mark Minickiello, vice president for legislative affairs, Northwest Credit Union Association.
"If our state legislators don't know anything about credit unions or the great things we do for our members and our communities, then they assume we are just like banks," he said.  "That's why our goal is to have every legislator meet with a credit union representative from their district."
A Financial Reality Fair for students is being held on the Capitol grounds in conjunction with Credit Union Day, which will give legislators an opportunity to see the difference that credit unions make with financial education.

On a national level, credit union advocates will take their message to Capitol Hill during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.

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