Ron Barber has been a congressman for four months. In that time, he has demonstrated independence and thoughtfulness and an affinity for public engagement.

He should be re-elected to represent District 2.

Barber's roots in Southern Arizona are well-documented, as is his unlikely path to Congress. He has been an advocate for people who need assistance, first in the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities and then as district director for former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The trajectory of his public service and pace of his life changed Jan. 8, 2011, when Barber and Giffords were shot at a "Congress on Your Corner" in northwest Tucson. Six people were killed in the rampage, and 11 more injured.

More than a year later, Giffords decided to step down from Congress, and she asked Barber to run in a special election to complete her term.

He did, he won, and in June the community advocate and small-business owner became U.S. Rep. Ron Barber.

Barber is a Democrat. But, in the same way that his predecessors have been members of political parties, he demonstrates independence.

Giffords, also a Democrat, did not side with her colleagues on every issue either, nor did the man she replaced, Republican Jim Kolbe, always vote with his party.

Barber evaluates issues on their own merit and understands and demonstrates representative government.

For example, he supported allowing the Border Patrol to bypass more than a dozen environmental regulations within 100 miles of the northern and southern U.S. border. Barber angered local Democrats with that vote - his first - hardly the stance of someone thinking only of party approval.

We also admire his quest for knowledge and attention to details. Barber is well-versed about the priorities of Southern Arizona: education, social services, health care, immigration, border security, solar energy, economic development.

We see his path of serving others and his insight into how bureaucracies function and fail as an advantage to strengthen the connection between concerns at home and Washington, D.C.

In this short time, Barber, with tenacity, has shown a propensity to navigate within political extremes. We believe that will help him better address concerns in Southern Arizona, like improving the economy, bolstering jobs and practical immigration reforms.

Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, has an impressive record of military and personal achievement. She is passionate, with a deep understanding of the value of leadership. She is knowledgeable about foreign affairs and military strategy and readiness.

However, the opportunity to witness, encourage and support a full-term Congressman Barber is worth pursuing.

The Star endorses Ron Barber for Congress in District 2.