When he was last in office, Tom was installed as leader of the Senate Majority Coalition that helped to hamper the excesses of a one-party controlled Legislature.

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One thing indisputable about Rodney Tom is that he is an independent-minded man who hews to the middle — much to the chagrin of both political parties.

And that’s why 48th Legislative District voters should return him to the Senate seat he held through 2014. He left, in part, to care for his father.

Tom angered Republicans in 2006 when the former Republican representative from Medina joined the Democratic Party because he was frustrated with the GOP stand on social issues. In 2013, many Democrats still can’t forgive him for joining two other Democrats who threw in with the Republicans to upend Democratic control of the Senate.

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Tom was installed as leader of the Senate Majority Coalition that helped to hamper the excesses of a one-party controlled Legislature.

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Now, still a Democrat, he is challenging incumbent Sen. Patty Kuderer, who Tom says is too far left for the district. And he seems intent on dragging the Legislature back to the middle with an idea that he would form a middle-of-the-road caucus with moderates from both parties. The muscle memory of our political system is daunting, but the middle is where most citizens, weary of political division, live.

Kuderer leans strongly left and among her policy goals is creation of a state bank. Disturbingly, she was leader in a failed effort to make the dates of birth of public employees secret — a major obstacle to citizens and news media holding their government accountable. She also voted for the bill to exempt the state Legislature from the state Public Records Act with no meaningful hearings — after a judge ruled the law did apply. A public outcry pushed the governor to veto that bill and lawmakers to stand down.

Tom promises support for legislative transparency and to be a check on Democratic default mode of seeking solutions first in tax increases rather than reforms. He wants to ensure that new education money is guided toward programs proven to work for students and is a strong supporter of public charter schools to serve students whose needs are not met by traditionals schools. Kuderer is adamantly against charters.

Rodney Tom is the best choice for senator in the 48th Legislative District.