Brooke Locke: Democrat running for Ingham County District 15

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Locke and Sen. Gary Peters speak to Ingham County voters at Democratic Senate candidate Sam Singh’s door-knocking campaign event.
Locke and Sen. Gary Peters speak to Ingham County voters at Democratic Senate candidate Sam Singh’s door-knocking campaign event. All Democratic politicians were accompanied by their volunteers.

Democratic candidate for Ingham County Board of Commission District 15 Brooke Locke has  close ties to Ingham County but specifically, Williamstown.

“The town’s always meant a great deal to me,” Locke said. 

Although transitioning into policymaking, Locke is currently a full-time real estate agent at Keller Williams Lansing. He also keeps busy working on a separate LLC for reinvestment and a part-time server at Tavern 109.

Denise Okopski, general manager of Tavern 109, said, “As a colleague, I appreciate the knowledge that he brought with him to the business. It takes a unique person to jump on board and become a part of the team, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Locke’s introduction to politics wasn’t a typical ride. Just weeks after graduating high school, he was enrolled in a test field study program with Michigan State University and quickly became involved in Debbie Stabenow’s gubernatorial campaign and then promoted to Stabenow’s deputy press secretary.

Locke wasn’t sure what his true direction was, but learned he had a passion to make a difference. Locke’s great-grandfather told him, “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a bigger part of the problem.”

Initially, Locke wasn’t certain about working toward being a county commissioner, but when thinking back to what his great-grandfather told him, he knew this step was crucial for him and his community.

Locke said, “If we don’t get people in who genuinely care about each other, regardless of party affiliation, and we don’t start breaking the chain … we’re in trouble.”

Locke served two terms as president of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and was formerly the chair of the Williamstown Zoning Board of Appeals by a Republican mayor. Through his experience, Locke believes Republicans and Democrats have the ability to efficiently work together.

“To me, when we come together and we find things, I think it’s important to have that balance that you’re taking the will of everybody,” Locke said. 

Locke is also the Ingham County Commission’s first openly gay candidate, however, he doesn’t feel this is a disadvantage.

“I’m comfortable with who I am,” Locke said. “Certainly, I’ve heard the slurs. … I usually respond by saying, ‘Oh, I’m sorry you don’t have the opportunity to get to know me — if we can have a conversation.’ It’s always puzzling to me to watch them look at me and go, ‘You didn’t get mad’ or ‘you didn’t get fed up.’”

He said he shouldn’t need to defend who he is as a person and doesn’t bring anything different to the table from someone who’s straight.

Locke asked, “Does it create obstacles? … Sure. But, I’m also a person that when there’s an obstacle in my way I try to figure out a way to get around it or move it in the best possible way.”

With a background in farming, Locke is passionate about giving equal funding in the rural community for parks and resources.

“I just think more of that kind of thing is important so we’re not cooped up, we’re out enjoying our natural environments,” Locke said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have learned a sufficient supply chain and transportation costs a lot of money. Locke, however, believes local farmers could lessen the supply chain demand.

Although connecting local farmers to communities isn’t easy, Locke is aware of nationwide roadmaps and believes he can make it work.

“I grew up milking cows and helped put out stuff on my grandfather’s farm,” Locke said. “So, I kind of can take what I had from my youth and say, ‘How do we bring this to partition so we can better work with everybody?’ and really just make the pride of our area so we’re self-sufficient.”

Local State House Rep. Julie Brixie, a Democrat, is running for re-election and supports Locke.

Brixie wrote over email, “What impressed me the most about Brooke is his commitment to cooperation. He’s willing to work with everyone to advance the interests of his community, and I know that he will be a positive force as county commissioner.”

Locke promises to be an active commissioner and wants to hear the community’s opinion and  more importantly how he can help.

“For me, when you’re giving to other people, I think I get just as much out of it,” Locke said. “When you’re doing something that wouldn’t get done otherwise, or you’re contributing to the change or to the common good, it’s just something that feels good.”

Bartender and manager at Tavern 109, Hailli Ridsdale wrote in a text, “The thing I appreciate about Brooke the most is his big heart. He has strong convictions and a clear moral compass that he always adheres to and is one of the most trustworthy people I know.”

If Locke takes office, he first wants to focus on taking part in hiring the new Ingham County health officer.

Locke said he is confident in his campaign and experience, and win or lose, he said it’ll still be a victory for him.

“We’ve had a lot of really constructive conversations even after being attacked,” Locke said. “Even if that is what is meant to be, for now, it is still a service to our district because we opened people’s eyes and we changed some people’s thoughts. To me, that is automatically a win.”

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