Tom makes right choice for the right reasons | Guest Editorial

The announcement that Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina will not seek re-election to the Legislature certainly jump-started the political season. Tom, a Democrat, already was facing a challenge in his own party from former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride.

That wasn’t surprising since many Democrats were livid that Tom — who currently represents the 48th Legislative District, which includes Redmond — became the Senate Majority Leader when he and another Democratic senator joined with the Republicans to give them control of the Senate.

While Tom stepped down as a Democrat, he once was a Republican. That ability to see the good in both political outlooks probably is more in tune with most voters. True-believers may run the parties, but they don’t speak for the majority of people in this state. That’s one of the reasons voters approved a top-two primary system.

Republicans won’t want to admit it, but Tom was right to switch to the Democratic Party some years ago. The GOP was stubborn on social issues that over time put them at odds with the majority of people in this state. Likewise, the Democrats have too often shown that they are far too willing to raise taxes to promote social programs that, while admirable, aren’t affordable. Tom, to his credit, wouldn’t go along and thus the Senate coalition was born.

What’s unfortunate is that the political polarization that has hobbled Congress for several years is showing some of those symptoms here, too. To say it’s unhealthy is an understatement.

Tom is stepping down for personal, not political reasons. His 85-year-old father recently was hit by a car while walking in the grocery store parking lot (in a crosswalk with his cane). Tom is the only son who lives in the area to help him with his recovery. “I have always said that health and family are my number one values, and instead of that being merely a campaign slogan, I really do try to live by them,” Tom told his Senate colleagues.

As he has many times in the past, Tom is making the right decision for the right reason. We’ll miss that in Olympia.

Craig Groshart is the editor of the Bellevue Reporter.



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