Police officer. Business owner. Public servant. Family man.
Tom O’Halleran has never backed down from a challenge and he’s never lost sight of the values with which he was raised. Representing Arizona’s First Congressional District over the last three and a half years, Tom has committed himself to improving the lives of others and working on the important issues impacting our communities.
Tom is the oldest of Virginia and Frank O’Halleran’s three children. Frank was raised on a dairy farm and started working full-time on the farm when he was only nine. During the Great Depression, the family lost its farm, and Tom’s father found work in a steel foundry before becoming a janitor. Tom’s mother was raised in a large working class family in Chicago and worked as a secretary at times. Tom’s parents urged him to study hard and serve the community through the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Tom has never forgotten the sacrifices his parents made to provide for him and his siblings. It’s their work ethic and compassion that has made Tom a committed public servant, fighter for middle class Arizonans, and advocate for strong and sustainable rural areas.
Growing up, Tom was eager to serve and protect his community as a police officer. His neighborhood was tough, but he knew in his heart that he could help make it a safer place to raise a family. In 1966, at 20 years old, he joined the Chicago Police Department, where he was an officer and then a sergeant in a special operations unit. Tom was later commissioned to be one of the youngest homicide investigators in the city’s history. He served with distinction—receiving three Department Commendations and over 30 other awards.
In 1979, Tom became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, where he opened up his own business and served two terms on the Exchange’s board of directors. He chaired or was vice chair of the Exchange’s finance, floor operations, and planning committees. In 1994, Tom became a consultant on design and integration of technology for financial trading floors. His work included planning for future needs of clients and collaboration between various exchanges to integrate new trading practices.
Upon retirement, Tom and his wife Pat moved to Arizona. Never one for sitting still, Tom became involved in local issues, first as an advocate for Yavapai County, and cities and towns of the Verde Valley, to the state legislature, focusing on natural resource and education issues. He then took up the call for new leadership in the state legislature and was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives with broad support. He served three consecutive terms as a State Representative followed by a term as a State Senator. While serving in the legislature, Tom received over 40 awards for his distinguished service from organizations that supported advancement in public education, child protective services, water conservation, and health care for Arizona seniors.
Now as a U.S. Congressman, Tom is a leader on issues impacting Indian Country and rural America, and he is focused on economic development opportunities across Arizona. He works closely with Republicans and Democrats alike on the Problem Solvers Caucus, is the policy co-chair of the House Blue Dog Coalition, and a member Task Force to End Sexual Violence. Additionally, Tom supports legislation to invest in skills training and education opportunities to ensure future generations of Arizonans are prepared for 21st century jobs.
Tom is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee--the oldest continuous standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives with the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in Congress. Through his committee work, Tom has introduced policies to expand broadband to rural and tribal America, lower health care costs, and invest in Arizona farmers and agricultural producers.
For Tom, it’s always been about improving the lives of children and creating a better life for future generations. He directly served many children as a police officer, protecting them from violence and solving crimes against children. After Tom retired from the force, he remained a leader on children’s issues by serving on the Board of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Chicago and coaching baseball, basketball, and football for local youth. Tom is a past member of the Board for Prevent Child Abuse, Arizona, and was a founding member of Arizona’s Children’s Caucus at the legislature.
During his eight years in the legislature and as a United States Congressman, Tom has built a reputation for taking on tough challenges and making hard decisions despite the political consequences. For example, Tom led the charge to reform a dysfunctional Child Protective Services during his time in the state legislature. Party leaders threatened him with retribution, but Tom did not flinch. He successfully reformed the program, even though his committee chairmanship was taken as punishment. Motivated by his success in reforming Child Protective Services, Tom led a bipartisan coalition to include all-day kindergarten and increased funding for education and university research in the budget. Tom also became the co-founder of the Children's Caucus in the legislature, and continued to fight for the betterment of Arizona kids. Yet again, Tom demonstrated in the Arizona legislature the type of courage that is in short supply in Washington.
Always an advocate for much-needed water conservation in the Southwest, Tom also helped introduce Arizona's first comprehensive bill on drought management, and helped create a statewide water plan.
After serving his constituents in the state legislature, Tom maintained his commitment to protecting Arizona’s natural beauty as the President of Keep Sedona Beautiful and as a Chairperson on the Verde River Basin Partnership.
Tom and Pat reside in unincorporated Yavapai County. He and Pat have been married for over 50 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.