2016 Targeted Candidates
Jessica Karjala - WON with 55% of the vote
Billings | House District 48
Jessica Karjala was first elected to represent House District 48 in 2014 where she fought tirelessly to protect and expand the rights of people with disabilities and access to Medicaid. Thanks to her efforts, HB 337 was passed and helped increase the resource limits for Medicaid program for workers with disabilities. During her time in the 2015 legislature, she served on the Health and Human Services Committee, State Administration and Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Agriculture Committee. Her service continued post-session where she served on the Children, Families, and Health and Human Services Interim Committee. Montana Conservation Voters, Montana AFL-CIO, NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, MEA-MFT, Western Sportsman Alliance and Carol’s List have since endorsed Karjala for the 2016 election.
Karjala’s passion is helping others lead to a career in nonprofit work. She earned a degree from the University of Montana in English Literature with minor studies in Nonprofit Administration and Spanish. She moved to Billings, MT where she has worked as a volunteer manager, Director of Marketing, and as a statewide Program Director. It is her background and deep understanding of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that has helped her develop and pass legislation for better support and services for people with disabilities.
When Karjala is not enjoying time with her grandson, Stanley, she also likes to ski, hike, and camp in the beauty of Montana’s public outdoors.
Mary Ann Dunwell - WON with 50% of the vote (by only 119 votes)
Helena | House District 84
Mary Ann Dunwell was first elected to represent House District 84 in 2014 where she dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for the people of Montana. During her freshman session, Dunwell helped pass the HELP Act, which expanded Medicaid to provide health services to 70,000 more Montanans. She sponsored HB 382, which aimed to revise stigmatizing language regarding mental health that was written in state law. During her time in the legislature, Dunwell served on the Natural Resources Committee, Legislative Administration Committee, and Taxation Committee. Carol’s List, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, and NARAL Pro-Choice Montana have since endorsed Dunwell for the 2016 election.
Between legislative sessions, Dunwell serves on the Montana Developmental Center Transition Council for sustainable system improvement of human services. She also serves on the Economic Development Advisory Council to make sure all Montanans enjoy the benefits of a robust economy. She is employed as a public information officer for the Montana Department of Revenue. She has also provided public information for the Departments of Environmental Quality and Public Health & Human Services. Dunwell has won awards for her work in non-profit communications and an Emmy award as a TV journalist for an investigative report on institutional racism.
Dunwell is running for reelection because there is still more to do for Montana. She wants to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to succeed by sponsoring legislation to increase the minimum wage, and believes that no one who works hard should struggle to make ends meet. She is passionate about protecting Montana’s environment and having a fair, equitable revenue system.
Margie MacDonald - WON with 50% of the vote (by only 44 Votes)
Billings | Senate District 26
Margie MacDonald was first elected to represent House District 51 in 2008. She is a champion for human rights and criminal justice reform and has worked to shift resources to prevention and community mental health addiction treatment, which has proven to lower the incarceration rates in Montana’s jails and state prison facilities. During her time in the legislature, she has served on the Rules Committee, Judiciary Committee, Transportation Committee, and as Vice-Chair of the Agriculture Committee. She also served as Minority Whip starting in 2011-2012 session. Carol's List, The Montana Conservation Voters, Montana AFL-CIO, Montana Sportsman’s Alliance, Montana Public Employee’s Association, and NARAL Pro-Choice Montana have since endorsed Macdonald for the 2016 election where she is running for Senate District 26.
Macdonald began her legacy of serving others in 1993 where she helped lead the community of Billings, MT to challenge groups of white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members who promoted hatred and violence towards people of color, religious minorities, and LGBTQ members. The “Not in Our Town” movement was founded off the organizing efforts led by her and others in Billings, MT. It has since become a national movement in human rights issues and organizing. Macdonald has served as Executive Director of Montana Association of Churches, and has become a leader in community-based grassroots conservation organization, including the Western Organization of Resource Councils where is she is currently employed as a regional organizer.
Macdonald was born in Glendive, MT and for the past 37 years has lived in Billings, MT where she and her husband John Smillie raised their two children, Siri and Charlie.
Carolyn Pease-Lopez - Lost by only 190 Votes
Lame Deer | Senate District 21
Carolyn Pease-Lopez was first elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2008 and has dedicated her time in the legislature to being an advocate for Montana’s Native population and improving the lives of Montana’s citizens. During her time in the 2015 legislature, she served on the Ethics Committee, Judiciary Committee, Human Services Committee, and the Agriculture Committee. She sponsored HB 47 that appropriated money for youth crisis diversion pilot projects. Carol's List, Montana Conservation Voters, and Montana Public Employees Association have since endorsed Pease-Lopez for the 2016 elections in her bid for Senate District 21.
Montana born, Pease-Lopez has called this state her home for 53 years and is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. She graduated from Poplar High School and then went on to receive a B.A. from the University of Colorado. She currently serves as a co-pastor with her husband at First Crow Indian Baptist Church of Lodge Grass, which has been her family’s home church for generations. Pease-Lopez and her husband reside on family land in Yellowstone County, which has been passed down for generations, and have raised their five children. Blessed with many grandchildren, Pease-Lopez enjoys family time, camping, and exploring the beauty of Montana’s outdoors.
She believes in passing legislation that improves the lives of Montana’s citizens and the state’s economy, including laws and budgets that strengthen Montana’s public education system and protect the vulnerable. She supports unions and protecting access to public lands. Pease-Lopez remains committed to expanding access to healthcare and maintaining a clean, healthy environment for generations to come.
Addrien Marx - Lost by only 88 votes
Seely Lake and East Missoula | House District 92
Addrien Marx grew up in the mining town of Butte, MT as the daughter of a carpenter. The first of her family to receive a college education, she graduated from the University of Montana Western in Dillon, MT with a degree in Secondary Education. She went on to become a teacher, shadowing a blind boy and providing him with braille translations for classes. Marx later served on the Missoula County High School Board for three terms which included the process of consolidating with District 1. However, it was her 30-year tenure as a successful businesswoman, owning and operating Rovero’s ACE Hardware and Gas in Seeley Lake, MT that led her to understand the realities many of her constituents face. A candidate for House District 92, Marx understands what it is like to live in her community, and is passionate about representing the needs of her home.
Presently, Marx serves as a board member and incorporator of Seeley Lake Regional Outdoor Center for Kinetic Sports (ROCKS), state council member for the Montana Wilderness Association, Missoula County Open Lands Committee, Seeley Lake Community Foundation Board and the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project. She has previously served as the Historical Museum at Fort Missoular Board Chair, Seeley Lake Chamber President, the Seeley Lake Historical Society Chair, and as Seeley Lake Community Council Chair during the final adoption of the Regional Plan which was a four plus year process.
A tireless advocate for the Montana’s natural resources and heritage, she advocates for Public Lands in Public Hands - speaking under the Rotunda with Governor Bullock during a Public Lands Rally. Marx is also a member of the highly respected Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project, a model of collaboration in public land use and solutions. Marx believes there is a better way to move Montana into the future without threatening public lands or public access. She understands Montana needs a strong infrastructure that supports our local communities and businesses in order for the economy to flourish. Raising four kids and a business in Seeley Lake, MT, it has been the deep involvement in her community that has allowed Marx to understand the needs and concerns of the members of House District 92.
Laurie Bishop - Won with 52% of the Vote
Livingston | House District 60
Laurie Bishop has been a Livingston resident for over 20 years, owning and operating a successful Main Street business and investing her time in her community as an active volunteer. She also has experience with nonprofit management as an executive for Shift Empowerment Programs. It was these experiences that proved to Bishop that locally informed efforts can have a positive impact on complicated, statewide problems. This prompted her to seek public office as a representative for House District 60.
Currently, Bishop works at the state level for the Montana Office of Public Instruction with the successful Graduation Matters Initiative. Working closely with the Montana Preschool Development Grant, she has helped communities apply the success of the Graduation Matters’ coalition building approach to early childhood learning.
Aside from her commitment to public education, Bishop wants to help build a strong Montana infrastructure that supports the expansion of renewable energy solutions. She also wants to protect Montanans’ access to public lands and expand the mental health services for children and adults.
Jen Gross - Won with 50% of the Vote (by only 96 Votes)
Billings | Senate District 25
Jen Gross was born and raised in Billings, MT where she has spent her life working to advance progressive values in Montana. She became a formidable “eleventh hour” candidate running for her first political office, when Democrat Robin Driscoll was appointed to the Yellowstone County Commission. Gross is a passionate social justice advocate and has worked for multiple organizations whose missions include access to comprehensive women’s healthcare, affordable healthcare, conservation, equality, and education.
Currently, Gross is the Manager of Field Operations for Planned Parenthood of Montana. She considers her work with Planned Parenthood to be the most rewarding and significant work she has done for her community, especially due to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Montana. Over 50,000 uninsured Montanans finally received health insurance. She has also worked extensively in the Montana legislature through legislative and electoral advocacy to ensure that Montana women can make private healthcare decisions and are able to access affordable reproductive and sexual healthcare. Gross sits on the federal Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education for the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services and has lobbied at the local, state and national levels.
As a senator, Gross will continue supporting women and families in their private healthcare decisions, protecting working families and small Montana businesses, preserving public access and the environment, and providing access to quality education for all.