Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Mary Lightbody

Mary Lightbody is running for re-election so that she can continue to work for equal access for all — for good schools, good jobs, and quality health care. Mary was first endorsed by The Matriots in 2018. During her first term, she earned the respect of her colleagues by applying her knowledge as an educator to improve and draft legislation, including a package of bills to help schools deal with the loss of funding and the threat of the COVID-19 virus. When re-elected, she will continue to work hard for working families and introduce bills that more deeply reflect the needs of the communities she represents.

Rep. Mary Lightbody On Female Leadership


Meet the Candidate: Mary Lightbody

 1) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office. Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?

I have lived in Westerville for more than thirty years. I had never served in any public office and ran for the first time in the fall of 2018, thinking that I’d like to serve residents in House District 19 and others across Ohio.  I promised voters I would work on improving the quality of education in our schools, providing access to health care and affordable health care insurance, and strengthening the middle class.  The message resonated because I flipped the district by more than ten percentage points and have been working to serve my constituents and fulfill my promises ever since through legislation, committee work, and votes on important bills.

I came to the statehouse after thirty years of teaching middle school science and gifted students in the Columbus and Westerville City Schools.  I have a doctorate in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, and continues to teach part-time as a Senior Lecturer at The Ohio State University on the Newark campus.  I am an active member of the community, served on the Westerville Public Library Board of Trustees, and as a deacon at my church.  My late husband and I have three children, all of whom graduated from Westerville North High School, majored in a science in college, and now live out of state with their families.

2) Many of you cited a specific person whose strength was an inspiration to you. Can you tell me about a woman who has had a big influence on your life and inspired you to become a leader? What lessons did she teach you? 

I am the sixth of seven children and have always been very close with my mother.  She established routines and doled out responsibilities (aka chores) that encouraged us all to be organized, efficient, and productive.  She produced beguiling craft materials at the end of every day while she puttered to get dinner on the table, and in that way developed our creative sides.  She could not sing a tune nor played an instrument, but she made sure we all did.  She taught remedial reading and spelling for years and published a very successful spelling program with SRA.  On top of all that, she ran for the school board four times, and was the top vote-getter every time, because she made herself available everywhere in the community, and listened to people. She also recognized effective leaders and brought some marvelous administrators to the school district from which I graduated.  She finally finished college the year before I did, got a master’s degree shortly after that, and became a professor of English at the local community college.  Eventually, she turned her hand to investing in the stock market and carefully tended her “chickens” – as she called her investments.  She read 4 newspapers daily – the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Investors’ Business Daily, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and could sniff out good investments like no one else I knew. She is now 101 and in good health and spirits, although too far away for me to visit often.

3) Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and a leader?

I have been a teacher and a researcher for 27 years, and an active member of my community as well.  Because educators receive close scrutiny I have always worked hard, done what I said I would do, and helped others with respect and courtesy.  As a member of a church most of my life, I live a thoughtful life of service.  It is also fair to say that I have taken on leadership roles in schools my whole life as well, from organizing elementary school games of dodge ball to being a captain of my high school and college field hockey teams and the president of student government in college.

4) The Matriots PAC has a bold goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?

I plan to have finished serving my 8 years in the Ohio House and will be supporting and mentoring these hordes of female candidates and helping them raise the funds they need to run a successful campaign.

5) As a Matriots endorsed candidate in 2018 you were elected and now serve as in elected office. What policy change or improvement are you most proud of from your time in office? 

I have a bill to make driving while distracted by electronics a primary offense.  Hold and interact with your mobile phone? You’ll be pulled over.  Break the habit now!   The bill is inspired by the heartbreaking story from a constituent and can make a huge difference in keeping us all safer on the highroads.

6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.

When I was a sophomore in college my father lost his job with a large engineering firm. The college gave me a full scholarship to cover the tuition, and I moved into a co-ed cooperative house with 24 other upperclassmen largely because the room and board fees were much less.  The benefits were huge!  I learned how to cook a variety of delicious meals for 35 people from scratch and on a tight budget.  I rode my bike to Fanueil Hall in Boston long before it was a tourist attraction to buy fresh vegetables and cheese and perhaps some meat or fish.  I learned to bake bread from scratch.  It was idyllic and I used everything I learned there through the early lean years of my marriage and family live.