University alumna looks to represent change in Delaware state Senate election
Community Engagement Editor
Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, a candidate for Delaware state Senate District 3 and university alum, is hoping that if elected, she can represent “a change in [the] status quo.”
“The way that things have always been done, it’s pretty hard to deny that if they were ever effective, they haven’t been particularly effective recently in representing and serving the needs particularly of our more struggling populations,” Lockman said.
Although Lockman has always been involved within the Delaware community, her background is not in politics. Her involvement was spurred by concerns about the quality of her daughter’s education.
When her daughter began elementary school in 2008, Lockman was surprised at the changes that had occurred within the district since she herself had gone through the public school system just over a decade earlier. As a member of the Parent Teacher Association, she had noticed increasing segregation, poverty and a difficulty obtaining resources.
As time went on Lockman, who graduated from New York University with degrees in film and linguistics, became increasingly involved within the education system, but she wanted to do more.
“I decided that I had a lot to learn to understand what was going on and why this inequity was flourishing it seemed like, so I decided to go back and get my master’s,” she said. “I chose public policy really because I was driven by this new really deep-seated interest in education …”
While completing her master’s in Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the university, she was asked by the governor to sit on the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. The group created a five year commission to improve Wilmington education, to which Lockman was appointed vice chair.
It was within this position, and with today’s turbulent political environment, that she began to see that she could continue to make a change.
“It’s been a really intense year… that demands that everybody takes a step forward in their civic engagement,” she said.
The election, which will be held on Sept. 6, will pit Lockman against incumbent Sen. Robert Marshall, who has been involved in politics for almost 40 years. In addition, she will face another challenger, Wilmington native Jordan Hines.
“It’s not that I feel that I’m running against the incumbent or even against the other challenger,” Lockman said. “I just think that in this moment in time I’m able to represent a pretty good balance of what I think our district needs.”
District 3 covers much of Wilmington, as well as some of the area just outside of city limits. According to Lockman’s website, over half of its households earn less than $35,000 annually.
One of the ways that Lockman hopes to make a change is to increase transparency in government. For example, she wants to make available information that shows taxpayers exactly where their money is going and why it is being allotted to specific schools and organizations. Lockman’s campaign platforms on her website focus on education, public safety, economic opportunity, good government and fair taxation, but, in these early stages of the campaign, she’s focusing on listening to what citizens in her district want from their government.
“A lot of what the work in the campaign now is really hearing what the actual citizens in the third district want to see worked on, so I can make sure when I do put forward policy proposals that’re in sync with what the district is feeling,” she said.
James Rubin, a senior political science major at the university is the field co-coordinator for Lockman’s campaign. He helps Lockman decide where she and her volunteers will go to campaign, and helps determine which issues are most important to various demographics.
“She gets that problems are multifaceted,” he said, sharing that he thinks education reform doesn’t happen only within schools, but within entire communities. “She comes at these problems from the actual reality that it isn’t just fix criminal justice or education, it’s many things.”
Rubin has also witnessed Lockman interact with her constituents firsthand.
“She actually is built to be a politician, not because she’s a phony person, but because she’s really real and genuine and she can make anyone like her,” he said. “When you’re going door to door with her she can get into long conversations with anyone.”
Lockman said that working with communities in her district has helped to motivate her to continue her involvement, and suggests that young people volunteer in their communities if they are interested in politics. She also suggests that anybody interested in politics should find an issue they care about and learn more.
“I think the most important thing is to focus on what you’re passionate about first,” she said. “I think that if you have an issue that you really care about and you’re able to dig into that issue and become involved and informed that will naturally lead you [to politics].”