COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout the month of September, Spectrum News will highlight key races in both the state's House and Senate.
The 19th House District in central Ohio includes portions of Franklin County. The competition features two women: one a freshman legislator seeking re-election against a political newcomer and public servant.
Democratic Representative Mary Lightbody (Westerville) ran on education, healthcare and jobs in 2018 and she feels she has had an effective first term in the Statehouse in all three areas. Meanwhile, Republican Meredith Freedhoff thinks her corporate and nonprofit background would better serve the district's constituents because she says she is not a politician.
Freedhoff's professional career includes working for news stations in Columbus to networks and Sony in New York City. She has spent the last 10 years in Ohio advocating and fundraising for organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Out of Darkness which works with victims of sex trafficking and Compassion's Way which helps the homeless and hungry.
"A political career was not in my future in my eyes but when I looked into the position and met with people in my district I realized that it was the perfect time and great opportunity," says Freedhoff.
Aside from the work she does in the nonprofit sector, Freedhoff says her top priority is helping those who suffer from the opioid epidemic.
“Drug addiction is personal to me. I lived that in my first marriage. I know that recovery is possible. I know that drug addiction is a bad problem that happens to good people,” Freedhoff says.
Representative Lightbody, along with serving in the Statehouse, has been a K-12 and collegiate teacher for nearly three decades, most recently at Ohio State's Newark campus. She has introduced a handful of bills like making distracted driving a primary offense, incentivizing college students to become STEM teachers and increasing the cutoff for federal funded childcare.
“I got a lot of work to do and I really enjoy the work and I want to get back to the Statehouse to do it," says Lightbody.
Lightbody wants to continue to address her big three issues especially healthcare and the economy.
“It concerns me that there’s a lot of people who have other problems, other medical ailments that are not covered by Medicare and supporting small businesses and larger businesses and making sure people who are employable can get back to work is a key importance thing," Lightbody says.
Freedhoff wants more transparency in the healthcare system in terms of actual costs for prescription drugs and medical devices. Both candidates agree systemic racism is a real crisis in Ohio and the US. However, when it comes to the pandemic, only Lightbody supports Governor DeWIne's mask mandate while Freedhoff believes only in personal responsibility.
Franklin County is a deep blue area so it could be tough for Freedhoff to knock off the incumbent. Lightbody won the 19th by 10 points in 2018, nearly the same amount Hillary Clinton carried the district by in 2016.