MEA-MFT endorsed candidates 2016
Affordable college for our kids. Fair wages and working conditions. Retiring in dignity. Public lands where we can hunt, fish, and hike. Made-in-Montana school policies. A voice for working families. The 2016 Montana elections affect all these issues.
MEA-MFT engages in politics to research candidates so we can recommend the candidates most likely to be on the side of MEA-MFT members and the issues our members care about.
Who decides: The endorsement process is painstaking, because the stakes are high. Members of the MEA-MFT Committee On Political Education (COPE), made up of the MEA-MFT Board of Directors, your elected representatives from around the state, spend many hours interviewing statewide candidates for elected office. At the end of the lengthy process, we present candidate recommendations to our members for their consideration.
The 2016 election is a hugely important election with inspiring candidates, rock-solid people who share our values and are on our side.
These candidates are people who will fight to make Montana a better place to work and thrive.
The following candidates have been interviewed, and their records and public statements have been carefully reviewed. MEA-MFT COPE proudly presents the MEA-MFT endorsed statewide candidates:
Steve Bullock has done an excellent job as governor and has earned another term. He can point to remarkable achievements that are good for MEA-MFT members and all Montanans.
Under his leadership:
• The last two legislatures ratified state employee pay plans negotiated between the governor’s office and Montana’s state employee unions, including MEA-MFT, providing two consecutive biennia of support for state employees and their work.
• The last two legislatures invested unprecedented new dollars in k-12 schools and froze tuitions to various public institutions of higher education.”
• The 2013 legislature amortized and saved teacher and public employee pensions in a fair and sustainable way for both employees and taxpayers.
• The last two legislatures adopted increases in correctional officer pay to recruit and retain quality employees for a difficult, dangerous job.
• The 2015 legislature adopted Medicaid Expansion, making health care available to thousands of Montanans who fell through the cracks.
None of this would have happened without Steve Bullock. Governor Bullock knows the middle class cannot survive unless employees have the right to organize and bargain collectively. He believes so-called “right-to-work” serves no purpose. He was the only governor in the nation to submit an amicus brief supporting public sector unions in the Friedrichs vs. CTA case recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When re-elected, Gov. Bullock will keep working to ramp up infrastructure investment in communities large and small all across Montana; provide greater mental health treatment and security; significantly grow state funding of our university system including more scholarship opportunities for Montanans; and establish free, quality, public early childhood education for all those whose parents choose it.
For Superintendent of Public Instruction:
Melissa Romano is all about kids. She will be a powerful advocate for Montana kids, public schools, and educators – a superintendent in the tradition of Denise Juneau, Linda McCulloch, and Nancy Keenan.
Melissa teaches at Four Georgians School in Helena. She has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in math instruction.
Melissa knows all Montana students, regardless of their home address, deserve the support and tools to learn. She will work with Montana educators everywhere to promote and enhance our quality system of public education. She knows teaching is more than a career; it’s a calling. Melissa will work to give educators the support, professional development, and resources they need to help our children and our public schools succeed.
Melissa will fight efforts to divert taxpayer dollars away from our public schools to benefit private schools that have no accountability to Montana taxpayers. She knows strong public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy, a crucial engine of our economy, and the heart of our Montana communities.
For U.S. Congress:
Denise Juneau is currently Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, an office she held for two terms.
Term limits prevent Denise from running for superintendent again. We are incredibly fortunate that she is running for Montana's only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Denise grew up in Montana, the daughter of two highly regarded educators. Her education ranges from Head Start to Harvard and includes a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s in English from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a law degree.
As Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau has proven herself an outstanding champion for public education and for working families.
She has also proven her capacity to lead our state in a progressive way. Even when Montana was compelled to comply with federal education law, Denise made it work for Montana kids. She pushed back against federal policies that don’t make sense in our state.
As a result of her leadership, Montana public schools didn’t suffer any of the outrageous things that happened in New York, Indiana, and other states under the federal No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
As superintendent, Denise has raised academic standards, improved the high school graduation rate, and fought to keep our public schools public.
Denise knows how to bring people together to get things done. Her Graduation Matters Montana initiative is a case in point. It brings together parents, students, business leaders, community members, and educators to work toward a common goal – getting every Montana student through high school ready to succeed. It has been a phenomenal success. That’s the kind of leadership we need in Montana and the nation. She’ll take that ability to Congress.
For Supreme Court Chief Justice: MIKE McGRATH
Chief Justice Mike McGrath is running for re-election. He has proven himself as a fair and hard-working justice who bases decisions on the facts, the law, and the constitution.
A native of Butte, Mike McGrath is a veteran who served in the Air Force. He was elected to five terms as Lewis and Clark County attorney and served two terms as Montana attorney general.
In 2008, Montanans elected Mike to an eight-year term as chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He is seeking a second term as chief justice in Montana’s 2016 election. Under Mike's leadership, the court has made rapid progress with the backlog of cases before the court and ensuring cases are heard and decided in a timely manner.
Mike has earned a reputation for honesty, leadership, and fairness. He’s impartial and nonpartisan. He has dedicated his life to serving the people of Montana. Those are the reasons Montanans elected him, and it’s why we need to re-elect him.
For Supreme Court Justice:
Justice Jim Shea previously worked several years as the presiding judge of the Montana Workers’ Compensation Court, where he dealt with people in very difficult life situations.
Jim has always maintained strict adherence to facts and the law in deciding cases. Jim rules for the constitution, not his personal, subjective interpretation of it.
Jim Shea is a genuine human being. He’s open, friendly, and he likes people. These are all good attributes for a judge. He’s a fourth-generation Montanan who worked to put himself through college. He can relate to everyday Montanans.
For Supreme Court Justice:
Judge Dirk Sandefur currently is a state district court judge serving Great Falls and Cascade County. He is running for the Montana Supreme Court justice seat being vacated by Justice Patricia Cotter at the end of her second term.
Dirk was first elected in 2002. The citizens of Great Falls and Cascade County re-elected him twice. He has a proven record and well-known reputation as a fair, impartial, and hard-working district judge.
A third-generation Montanan born and raised in Great Falls, Dirk comes from a working family. His father was an enlisted Korean War veteran and auto body mechanic, and his mother was a medical lab technician. He put himself through college and law school through low-paying jobs and school loans that he worked hard to repay. Like most Montanans, he knows what it means to work hard and persevere.
Judge Dirk Sandefur fiercely believes in the rule of law, the bedrock principles and individual rights in the U.S. and Montana Constitutions, and a fair, impartial, and even playing field for all.
For Secretary of State:
Monica Lindeen has a strong track record of hard work, innovation, and fighting for the rights of ordinary Montanans.
Monica grew up in Huntley, MT, and worked her way through school, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college.
In 1995, she helped start one of Montana’s first internet service providers. With Monica as general manager, the business grew into Montana's top internet service provider.
Monica served in the Montana legislature for four terms, where she pushed for investment in Main Street businesses and Montana workers.
Monica currently is Montana state auditor, regulating the state’s insurance and securities industries. She has fought to make sure the rights of individual Montanans were not drowned out by the money and influence of the big global finance and insurance companies.
In her two terms as auditor, Monica has helped recover more than $36 million for Montana customers who had their medical bills wrongfully denied or inaccurately settled by their insurance company. She has ordered financial criminals who victimized Montana investors to pay more than $385 million in restitution.
Monica is now running for secretary of state, which oversees Montana’s elections. She has the proven energy, honesty, and dedication to protect the rights of voters and keep our elections fair and free.
For Attorney General:
COPE members were pleased with Tim Fox's record of good relations with public employee union members represented by the Montana Public Employees Association at the Department of Justice.
Tim has established an open-door policy with MEA-MFT and has invited us to come visit with him on the issues whenever we wish. Going forward into a likely turbulent political future, that’s important to us.
We are also grateful that Fox is defending Montana’s open primary elections. In doing so, he is standing up to leaders in his own party who want to close our primaries. Closed primaries would infringe on Montanans’ historic freedom to vote for the candidates of their choice.
Fox’s office worked with MEA-MFT to resolve our Teachers’ and Public Employees’ Retirement System lawsuits without compelling us to take our case to the Montana Supreme Court. This is a big deal for MEA-MFT members.
For State Auditor:
Jesse Laslovich has great energy and deep Montana roots. He grew up in Anaconda and has many public employees in his family, including educators. He understands and appreciates the important work public employees do.
Jesse wants to bring rationality to the way insurance is provided in Montana. He is concerned about the cost and quality of insurance. That’s extremely important to our MEA-MFT members and their families. We need someone in this position who will advocate for working Montana families when it comes to insurance.
The state auditor has a seat on the State Land Board. Jesse has a good understanding of the duties of the board. He believes all public lands should stay public. He wants to improve public access to our public lands, and he will not support selling our public lands.