Tom Andersen isn't your typical politician. He is the son of a Presbyterian minister. The family dinner table conversations were about making the world a better place and his upbringing instilled in him the importance of community. Whether it is Tom's practice in law or public service, his work is grounded in what his father always said: “The poor and dispossessed of our world don't need charity, they need justice."
Tom was born in Chicago, IL and moved to Oregon in 1973 to attend the University of Oregon School of Law where he graduated in 1976. He then moved to Vermont to do public interest legal work, including representing the interest of low-income groups. He moved back to Eugene in 1979, where he became a partner and litigator in a firm representing businesses and people in civil and criminal trials. In 1986 he began working as a trial lawyer for the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation (SAIF). He worked for SAIF for 19 years in its critical claims unit, trying complex cases and resolving issues around toxic workplaces and environments. In 2007, he opened his own practice and began working independently to argue complex cases concerning workers compensation.
In every place he's lived in Oregon, Tom has been active in civic life, working with others to make sure that Oregon maintained its vaunted livability for all citizens. Tom has been a committed active member of his community. He served as a neighborhood leader in Eugene and in Salem, often testifying in front of City Council to represent his neighbors. After being approached by neighbors and leaders alike, he agreed to run for Council himself in 2014.
Tom won a three-way primary election and went on to serve two-terms as Salem City Councilor. For eight years, he worked to strengthen Salem's economy and quality of life. As City Councilor, he worked to create over 1,500 shelter beds for homeless residents, helping transition people off our streets into permanent housing, supported Salem's innovative community-focused police station, worked to reduce bureaucracy and incentivize building affordable housing, led efforts to create Salem's Climate Action Plan, and supported successful earthquake retrofitting of the Salem Library.
Tom has a long-standing commitment to equity and inclusion, including but not limited to his actions on City Council. He introduced and passed Salem City Council resolutions denouncing white supremacy, institutional racism, and declaring Salem as an inclusive city welcoming to all Oregonians regardless of their origin. In 2019 the Salem-Keizer NAACP presented Tom with its “Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major For Justice Award" for his leadership in racial and social justice efforts while on the Salem City Council.
Tom lives in Salem by Bush's Pasture Park with his wife Jessica. Tom has two Oregonian sons: Ben, a lawyer, and Eli, a Naturopathic Physician.