“I find that newspapers, unless you’re a regular columnist for them, have limitations,” Moe said of her numerous posts on Cowturd while talking with Mike Dennison on September 12. “I’ve always liked reading that blog.”
So…who is this woman?
Let’s dig into that today and see if we can get some answers.
A Biography of Montana's Mary Sheehy Moe
Mary Sheehy was born in Billings in 1950…I think. I wasn't able to find a birth date for her.
She graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1968 then headed to the University of Montana.
She got her BA in English in 1972 and the next year headed on down to Louisiana to teach English, journalism, and drama at a Catholic high school.
How long that lasted is anyone’s guess, but at some point she came back up to Montana and got into the public education system here.
Those were back in the good ol’ days when you didn’t need an advanced degree to teach.
Moe found work teaching in Polson then Red Lodge before settling into Columbia Falls.
During her time in the school system she helped on students with the student newspaper and coached track, volleyball, basketball, softball, and soccer.
She worked as a teacher in Columbia Falls for a number of years teaching high school English, and in 1987 was even named Montana’s “Teacher of the Year.”
Three years later she decided it was time for a change, and in 1990 she moved to Helena.
The reason was simple – she was moving up.
Despite not having an advanced degree, she began teaching at the Helena College of Technology in the English Department.
In 1994, four years after she started teaching college-level courses, Moe got her master’s degree in Education. Three years later, in 1997, she got an education doctorate from UM.
Both of those degrees allowed Moe to move up in the college to department chair and then accreditation coordinator.
In 1998 Moe received the National Council of Teachers of English Intellectual Freedom Award.
The Helena job lasted until 1999 when she headed up to the Great Falls College of Technology…perhaps because she was getting married.
At some point Sheehy married Duane Moe and took his name…sort of. He’s a special agent for the U.S. Forest Service in the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
They have three kids and live on Prospect Drive in Great Falls, just east of the water treatment plant.
Three years into the Great Falls job, in 2002, Moe was named the dean of Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology. She’d served for a year as interim dean after the old dean retired.
In 2005 Moe was given the Educational Leadership Excellence Award from the University of Montana.
Then in 2010 Moe retired after 38 years in Montana’s public education system.
After enjoying four years of retirement she decided to enter the political arena.
Moe got the idea to run for the Montana Senate when Senate District 12’s seat opened up.
Mitch Tropila had held the seat since he was elected in 2006 but found himself term-limited out in 2014.
He ran for HD 26 and got Moe to run for his old seat.
Moe had no primary opponent in 2014, and took 1,748 votes running unopposed.
It’s very likely that Moe saw herself as a shoe-in for this position. Many Democrats in safe, urban districts develop this ‘entitled’ mentality, just as Republicans in safe, rural districts develop it.
Knowing she wouldn’t be bloodied in either a primary or general election battle, Moe chose to keep her cards close to her chest.
We know that in 2014 Moe “refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2014 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests.”
That’s what Phillipsburg company Vote Smart has to say about her.
Despite keeping voters in the dark on where she stood on the issues, Moe won her SD 12 race in 2014.
The final tally was Moe with 3,010 votes to Sheridan Buck’s 2,596, or 54% to 46%.
Moe won’t have to run again for SD 12 until 2018. It’s likely she’ll win, and after that she’ll likely try for a higher statewide office.
I don’t see her jumping down to the House.
The Montana Sheehy’s
As far as I can tell, they’re not.
Moe was born in Billings in 1950 while Sheehy was born in Butte in 1952 and grew up in Missoula.
Moe got an English degree in 1972 from UM while Sheehy got a political science degree in 1974 from Gonzaga.
I don’t think there’s any connection between them, but perhaps I’m just not finding it.
After all, Moe says on her Facebook page that she has 10 brothers and sisters.
Wow, that’s a lot of kids that John and Rita Sheehy had!
Mary Sheehy Moe’s siblings are:
- Anne Yegen (Park City)
- Tom Sheehy (Helena)
- Pat Sheehy (Billings)
- Kate Whitney (Helena)
- Eileen Sheehy (Billings)
- Rosalie Cates (Missoula)
- Margaret Sheehy (New York)
- Jenifer Sheehy (Billings)
- Martha Sheehy (Billings)
- John Sheehy (Vermont)
I believe Moe was the third-born.
Moe mentions that her Montana roots “stretch to Butte on my dad’s side and Gold Butte, Havre, Kremlin, and Billings on my mom’s side.”
I think about the family connections because of the comment on Cowturd a week ago:
“Sheehy is a legacy,” the commenter says, “set up to hold office due to family connections.”
So…what are these family connections?
A failed 2012 MT Supreme Court candidate?
Or is there something more…something I’m missing?
I think it’s Moe’s dad…John Sheehy.
Younger folks like myself won’t know that John “Skeff” Sheehy was a Montana Supreme Court Justice from 1978 to 1991.
He’d been born in Butte in 1918 and got his law degree from UM in 1943, got elected to the Montana House in 1959 and again in 1965, and then got elected to the Montana Senate from 1969 to 1971.
John Sheehy’s nephew is Ed Sheehy, which means that Mary Moe and Ed Sheehy are cousins.
On top of this, one of Moe's uncles "was in charge of writing our present constitution" for Montana.
Yes, there is a Montana family connection here, quite a big one and one that goes back some time.
I find her posts boring and consider her just another cardboard-cutout Democrat that will toe the party line and do as she’s told.
I’m not sure she’s capable of an original political thought.
In other words, I see no meaningful legislation coming from this woman nor do I see any kind of meaningful change coming to my life from her political service.
Most politicians in Montana are exactly the same.
Now, that’d usually be the end of it except for the fact that Moe is continuously posting on Cowturd now.
Is it because no one else feels like writing on the site…or are there some ulterior motives here?
I can’t help but think it’s because Moe has been picked and groomed for higher things, like a statewide position or even a run at the U.S. House in 2018 or something of the like in 2020.
Now, where would that idea come from?
Personally, I think it comes right from the top of Moe’s knight-in-shining-armor-organization, MEA-MFT.
Yes, the wily Eric Feaver.
Could he have tagged Moe years ago as someone that could move up the ladder easily and quietly without raising a fuss, the better to do his bidding once she’s firmly entrenched?
You know I have no love for Eric Feaver, a union boss making $125,000 a year while his starting teachers toil under the poverty-like salary of $26,700.
Montana ranks 50th in the nation for starting teacher pay and we rank 36th for average teacher pay.
But Eric Feaver will keep getting his $62 an hour.
And he’ll keep pushing forth acceptable candidates that will look the other way at his high salary and terrible performance (50th in starting salaries?)…candidates like Moe.
And then we get the family legacy.
I hate this.
I hate nepotism in politics, and I feel that's exactly what it is - Moe is given favorite status because of who her dad was, and the tired old has-beens of the Party and their memory of him and what he did.
One of the reasons we decided to become independent from England is that we didn’t want this hereditary form of government.
Now, however, instead of just letting the kids take over where the parents left off, we have the political party machinery choose them instead.
That does a lot to minimize any kind of talk that things aren’t democratic.
And why should they be democratic?
These are important issues we’re talking about here – politics. We need people in charge with long family legacies, damn it!
They can be trusted not to overturn the apple cart. We know what they’re capable of…and what they’re not.
It’s safe, choosing legacy candidates, and more than anything, the Montana Democratic Party plays it safe.
So I fully expect that we’ll see Moe running for some higher office in the future.
She wouldn’t be writing on Cowturd all the time if she wasn’t planning something like that.
I can’t imagine how anyone will get excited about this, but remember, what I think as a 34-year-old isn’t really important.
Montana is a state for old, retired folks…like Moe.
It’s a state that you come to when you’ve made your money, when you’re done with the rat race, when you just want to forget it all.
We have lots of old teachers like Moe that taught kids when we still had lots of kids to teach.
Now we don’t, and we’ll continue to see decreases as the state ages.
In 2011-12 there were 7,500 fewer high school students in Montana than there had been in 2000. From 2014 to 2015 Montana's public school enrollment increased by just 0.3%.
Why move to a politically backwards state that doesn't fund education, has few career prospects, and barely enough young workers to keep up with what the low-paying jobs demand?
In that regard, it’s good to have old people representing ‘us,’ for they know ‘our’ concerns.
How Montana will ever become a place where teachers like Moe are needed again, however, I haven’t a clue.
You won’t get there if you keep electing yesterday to bring in tomorrow – it just doesn’t work.
But again, it’s not really about improving anything in Montana, it’s just about staying where we are.
So we’ll tread water political and economically and tired old candidates like Mary Sheehy Moe are ideal for that.
Good luck, Montana, good luck.