Oxford resident Tom Cooke runs for Ohio Senate

The Ohio State Senate may have an Oxford “townie” sitting in its chamber next year.

Tom Cooke, a resident of Oxford, Ohio, is running for election to Ohio’s 4th senate district in November’s upcoming senate elections. Cooke, a Democrat, ran uncontested on the Democratic ticket in April’s primary, and will face incumbent Republican George Lang in the race to represent Ohio’s District 4.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Cooke entered the Army after graduating high school. He served for four years before attending St. John’s University in New York. He graduated in 1980 and earned a direct commission to the Army’s Military Intelligence branch as a Second Lieutenant.

Cooke retired from service in 2000, and worked as a Senior Staff Officer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, Virginia. His accolades include a Bronze Star and the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.

Now, Cooke wants to bring his public service skills to the Ohio Senate.

“I’ve always been public service oriented,” Cooke said. “When I moved here, I wanted to get involved in the community because I was gonna make this my final home.”

Cooke is also a member of the local Kiwanis club and the American Legion, a veteran organization.

Tom Cooke served 24 years in the army

“I started looking at the local politics and I didn’t like what I saw,” Cooke said.” “I didn’t like that the public legislature was ignoring what the people had voted for. I thought maybe I could make a positive difference in Ohio.”

Cooke says he’s interested in protecting the interests of people, rather than prioritizing economic development, but he’ll try to shift Ohio’s legislative focus on business development to include economic support for the employees of the state’s businesses.

“Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, and I disagree,” Cooke said. “The business of America is taking care of Americans. So the business of the Ohio legislature is to take care of Ohioans, not necessarily to attract businesses.”

Cooke noted that he thought current leadership was misrepresenting its constituency, citing differences in opinion between everyday voters in Butler County and their elected legislators, specifically around issues of reproductive rights and school vouchers.

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Some of Cooke’s top priorities are minimum wage increases and expansion in funding for public schools. In addition, Cooke is advocating for environmental protection and expanding access to public health care.

“Ohio is 46 out of 50 in pre and post-natal deaths because there’s no access to healthcare for pregnant women,” Cooke said. “So that’s got to change. We also need more support for mental health.”

Cooke isn’t running his campaign on his own, though. Another Butler County resident, Chantel Raghu, who’s running for Butler County commissioner in the fall, said Cooke has a good team around him.

“I think that he has a really good balance,” Raghu said.” He has a lot of young people on his campaign that provide a lot of energy. I think Tom is a very genuine guy who just wants to make people’s lives better.”

If both Cooke and Raghu win their respective races in November’s upcoming elections, they will work alongside each other in Butler County, where Cooke will listen to Rahgu and other Butler County members’ feedback and take it to the Ohio Senate.

Cooke is a relative newcomer to Oxford, having moved to town in 2021, making him a new face in the Butler County political sphere. Sam Lawrence, a sophomore political science major and Cooke’s campaign manager, said this isn’t an issue.

“He’s the right choice … because he cares for the community so much,” Lawrence said. “He’s only lived here for a few years but has learned a lot about the community, and what’s impacting the people in it.”

Even though he’s retired, Cooke has no intention of slowing down if he wins. 

“You know, 24 years in the Army, my focus was service to the nation” Cooke said. “After 20 years as an intelligence officer, it was service to the intelligence community providing quality intelligence to the decision makers at the national level. I’m looking to provide the same level of support to the people of Ohio specifically. So it’s not about slowing down, just shifting gears.”

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