Meet the candidate: Representative Mary Lightbody

I grew up in a big family with five brothers, and just one sister. My parents were outstanding and nurturing but also very clear about their expectations. There is dignity in work, and we were all to carry our fair share. I had a happy childhood, played outdoors much of the time, and excelled in school. But never, in all the years since then until now, did I realize how important that start in life would be. We attended church every week, we did chores and had Family Fun on Sunday afternoons. Late afternoon was art time, and after dinner the table was cleared off for homework. Dad was faster on a slide rule than any of us on a calculator, and could help us with any math or science problem. Mom taught remedial reading and spelling, wrote a successful spelling program published by SRA, and served four consecutive terms on the local school board. We all went to college, have professional careers, and remain very close. So now, you need to know my name: Mary Lightbody, and that I am running for re-election to a second term as the State Representative for Ohio House District 19. The district is in the northeast corner of Franklin County, includes Westerville, New Albany, Gahanna, and part of Columbus.

After the idyllic life in Pepper Pike, I spent a year as an exchange student in Bangkok, Thailand in high school. I was there during the Vietnam War, and saw the United States through different eyes. When I came back, I chose to go to one of the colleges to which I had applied from Bangkok, and happily moved to Cambridge. Harvard was a marvelous opportunity, and I majored in Asian Studies. I also met and married my husband, a Harvard student who was also from Ohio. Together we stayed in the Boston area until he finished his PhD at MIT, taught for a few years at U. Mass Amherst, and decided to move back to Ohio so our children could grow up within easy driving distance of their grandparents.

Rick was an engineer, and I had stayed home to raise our children. I supported him when his kidneys failed by being his partner for hemo-dialysis treatments at home. Once we were settled here, I went back to school so I could help pay college tuition for our three children. I got a teaching license, and started what has been a very fulfilling career. I discovered that I loved teaching middle school science, but needed to work on my content knowledge. I enrolled in a graduate program at Ohio State while still teaching full time, helping our kids with their school activities, and supporting Rick with dialysis, which we did at home for 13 years until he got a transplant. I finished a doctorate in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education in 2004, and shortly thereafter took a short term position at Otterbein and a long term opportunity at Ohio State Newark.

I have worked as a science educator for the majority of my life, including 28 years in K-12 public education. I moved to higher education institutions, first at Otterbein University, followed by my current Senior Lecturer position at The Ohio State University-Newark. My role as an educator is central to my identity and sustained me through the years after my husband’s death in 2009 after a short illness. As I began to create a new path forward without him, I found opportunities to serve in my community and at my church, and in 2018 ran for an open seat in the Ohio House. I was a first time candidate and previously a sideline observer of the political scene.

I am running on three issues: education, health care, and jobs. Through my experiences with my late husband’s struggle with kidney failure, I witnessed first hand the need for healthcare reform in Ohio. We received benefits from Medicare because end stage renal failure was classified as a disability. Our experience with his illness motivates me to advocate tirelessly for increased access to high quality, affordable healthcare for every Ohioan. I am also determined to ensure that Ohio commits to a fair funding plan for our public schools that will support the next generation of teachers, workers, and leaders. Research in renewable energy and batteries to store solar and wind energy is leading to new innovations and advancements, and exciting new employment opportunities.

As a member of three House Committees (Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce and Labor, and Higher Education), I champion many pieces of legislation central to those areas. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve my constituents and listen to the concerns of our communities and create meaningful, action based solutions. District 19 is home to inspiring, strong, and hardworking individuals, and the same can be said of the rest of Ohio. For them, and for our future, I have been investing considerable time and effort advocating for legislation that will create a living wage, equal opportunities for all, and supporting fair policies for Ohio’s working families — as well as the needs of small businesses and our local municipalities.

My first term as Ohio House District 19’s State Representative has been incredibly fulfilling. It is with passion and drive that I am running to be re-elected this November. There is no issue that we cannot solve when we come together as Ohioans. Please visit for additional information on my work and request a newsletter. Follow me on social media: Mary Lightbody for OH 19 on Facebook, @Mary_Lightbody on Instagram, and @MaryLightbody on Twitter. I regularly post information about my work and our campaign, and would love to include you in the work we do.

Most importantly, I urge you to vote and have your voice heard in the 2020 election. Make a plan, and carry it out. Vote early at the Board of Elections, vote through an absentee ballot, vote curbside if you have a disability or medical need, or vote on Election Day on November 3. Find all of your voting information at

Mary Lightbody is the current State Representative for Ohio House District 19, serving the areas of Westerville, Gahanna, New Albany, and part of Columbus.

Official campaign account of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus. Paid for by OHDC.