Tom was raised on a small farm in Central New York State where he learned the importance of being reliable and working hard by milking cows twice per day, in addition to all of the other farm responsibilities that fall on the eldest child. He graduated in the top 10% of his class from McGraw Central High School and lettered in baseball, basketball, soccer, and rifle.
He attended Syracuse University on scholarship and graduated 1968 with a B.A. degree featuring a major in Political Science. He earned a Masters Degree in Political Science from Michigan State University and served as a Teaching Assistant. Following a year back on a dairy farm to support a seriously ill family member, Tom returned to Michigan State. Ultimately transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned his PhD in Political Science and headed a faculty member’s 30-person research team.
Following Senator Talkington’s retirement, Tom served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Corrections; and then Executive Director of KPL/Western Resources’ Government Relations, Corporate Communications, and Economic Development Departments; before seeking the 45th District’s seat in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1994.
Tom served as Associate Director of the Kansas State Nurses Association and then moved to the Kansas State Senate as Chief-of-Staff for the Senate Majority Leader, Bob Talkington. Leaving the Senate, he represented the Getty Refining and Marketing Company as a Government and Community Affairs Representative for three years before returning to the Kansas State Senate as Chief-of-Staff for the Senate President, Bob Talkington.
Tom has served as Chairman of the Special Joint Committee on Energy, Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Vice Chairman of the Utilities Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Government Efficiency and Technology Committee.
He has served as Chairman of two Discussion Groups on Electric Transmission Issues at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); is the only state legislative member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 30-member Electricity Advisory Committee; is a member of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative’s Steering Committee. Tom is President of the Lawrence Technology Association and Chairman of Rural Water District #1. He also serves as a member of the Kansas Energy Council; and is a member of the Insurance Commissioner’s Telemedicine Task Force.
Tom and Gail recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and have three adult children and two grandchildren. Wendi, Jeremy and their family live in North Carolina; Keith and Michelle live in Texas; and Lynnette lives in Lawrence. Gail developed the natural resources education and mentoring program at Haskell Indian Nations University for the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal and tribal natural resource agencies.