FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2006
Contact: Senator Levin's Office
SENATOR MARK DAYTON RETIREMENT TRIBUTE
Mr. President, as Senator Mark Dayton prepares to leave this body, I’d like to share with my colleagues a few thoughts about his service. In September, I had the pleasure of speaking on Senator Dayton’s behalf at a dinner paying tribute to the retiring senators, and I ask that my remarks from that event be placed into the Congressional Record.
“On the night six years ago when Minnesota voters chose him as their 33rd Senator, Mark Dayton told the cheering crowd: ‘No matter what your political party or personal philosophy, no matter who you voted for today or even whether you voted at all, I'll work for you. When, next January, I become Senator Dayton, please -- call me Mark. Because I'm your public servant. I'll work for you.’
“For the past six years, Mark has kept that pledge, because those words were not the rhetoric of a campaign; they were a reflection of Mark’s deeply-held beliefs. Mark Dayton treats everyone – from the wealthiest to the least fortunate – with the same sense of fairness and compassion, and he carries himself with a humility to which we can all aspire. Mark’s lack of guile has characterized his service here, where political calculating is an accepted reality.
“When Mark came to the Senate, he brought with him a broad range of experience. In the private sector he had worked as a public school teacher in a challenging New York City school; as a counselor to runaway youth; as a chief financial officer for a non-profit group; and as head of an investment group. In public life, he had served as a Senate aide to Walter Mondale; as head of Minnesota’s Department of Energy and Economic Development; and as State Auditor, among many other capacities.
“That path of service to Minnesota led to his own election to the Senate. Mark and I serve together on both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. As the ranking member on both committees, I have witnessed in Mark a Senator who is passionately dedicated to public service. Mark reads the long reports, he attends the dry meetings, he masters the difficult material, and he asks the tough questions with a disarming directness and quizzical curiosity.
“On the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Mark has been a strong voice in our hearings examining abusive tax shelters and offshore tax havens. Mark has been a leader on prescription drug issues, and he even donates his Senate salary to help seniors buy prescription drugs they could not otherwise afford. And Mark has been a great battler on issues common to our two states, including fighting on behalf of our steel and mining industries and to strengthen our Northern Border.
“As part of our work on the Armed Services Committee, Mark traveled with Chairman Warner and me and six other Senators to Iraq, where we saw firsthand Mark’s deep dedication to the men and women of our armed forces. After allegations surfaced that our troops in Iraq had been given contaminated water by a contractor, it was Mark’s insistence that led to an ongoing investigation into the contractor’s actions. And Mark has been a true champion for our National Guard and Reserve forces, working forcefully to ease their difficult transition back to civilian life when their tours of duty finally end.
“As Mark writes the next chapter in his own life, he can return home to the people of his beloved Minnesota knowing that he has served them honorably and well. Some of them will probably insist on calling him ‘Senator.’ But, for most, this idealist with a good heart never stopped simply being ‘Mark.’”
We shall miss Mark Dayton and wish him well as he leaves us.