WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) went to the Senate floor this morning to give a speech honoring his retiring colleague U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich following the senior Senator’s valedictory address.
Sen. Brown’s prepared statement is below:
You may view Sen. Brown’s floor speech here.
“I rise today to speak about my friend and colleague, the senior Senator of Ohio, Senator George Voinovich.
On behalf of generations of Ohioans who have been served by his nearly 50 years of public service, I thank you.
George and I may disagree on some issues, but there is no questioning his dedication, humility, and commitment to his state and to his nation.
He began his career in public service, as Assistant Ohio Attorney General, after receiving his undergraduate degree from Ohio University and his law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law.
From there it was to the Ohio House, and the Cuyahoga County Auditor and Commissioners offices.
By 1979 he was Lt. Governor, and from 1979-89, he served as Cleveland’s Mayor.
It was a platform that elected him Governor and then Senator.
With his wife Janet by his side, George has spent his life in public service recognizing that governing is more than taking a position.
It requires serious contemplation and resolute action, instead of fair weather responses to polls or partisanship.
Reflecting his respect for our state’s tremendous potential, George likes to say “the rust is off the belt” when selling the idea of Ohio as a great place to work, live, and raise a family.
When he was the mayor of Cleveland, he led the city during difficult times in the early 1980s.
When he was the Governor of Ohio, it meant a closet full of hardhats, bronzed shovels, and cut ribbons from successful construction of new plants and other businesses across Ohio’s 88 counties.
It meant ensuring state agencies were “working harder and greater, even with less,” as he likes to say.
As Senator, his advocacy on behalf of Ohio meant strengthening our infrastructure – our roads and bridges, our water and sewer systems.
It meant protecting the walleye and yellow perch in Lake Erie, promoting economic development in Appalachia, and preserving Ohio’s legacy as a gateway to our nation’s economic prosperity.
And like Ohio’s reputation as a state of hard workers, George is the consummate public servant.
As a pivotal member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, George brought his executive experience as a Mayor and Governor to fight for enhancement of our nation’s infrastructure.
He knows that policymaking isn’t just about the national headlines, it’s about the day-to-day decisions that promote the wellbeing of Americans and America.
It’s about unglamorous, but essential functions of elected office – reading reports and briefings, handwriting correspondences, following long-term priorities, and maintaining daily constituent services.
He is also comfortable with the uncomfortable role of elected office – being unafraid to say “no” if he believes it is in the best interests of the state or the nation.
That meant “no” to presidents regardless of party – whether on tax or fiscal policy.
It meant “no” to stakeholders if a project didn’t promote economic development or a program didn’t use taxpayer dollars wisely.
But he would do so by looking the person in the eye to explain his decision, without ever demonizing anyone.
That independence and integrity allowed him to put Ohio and our nation above party politics.
It allowed him to talk passionately about how long-term budget priorities matter to the economic competitiveness of our nation.
It meant as an Eastern European immigrant’s son from Cleveland, he’d explain to presidents and Secretaries of State the importance of protecting “Captive Nations” of the old Soviet bloc.
He deservedly takes great pride in his work on improving the quality of the federal workforce – from the civil service to the civilian personnel at Wright Patterson Air Force Base or NASA Glenn.
And as a product of Collinwood High School in suburban Cleveland, his commitment to higher education is a testament to his lasting impact on our state.
A 1958 graduate of Ohio University, the University has since created The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, in recognition of his the contributions to one of its great alums.
The School provides comprehensive business, education, and technology education – training the next-generation of leaders and promoting economic development that is crucial to our state’s future.
But none of George’s accomplishments could have occurred without the comfort and counsel of his wife, Janet.
Janet, thank you for your service to our state and for your personal friendship to me and my family.
Regardless of the office George Voinovich held – in Cleveland, Columbus, or Washington – he and Janet always called the same Collinwood neighborhood their home.
It’s where they raised their four children, George, Betsy, Peter, and Molly – and where their grandchildren visit.
And it’s where he will return – after distinguished service to his state and to his nation – to the city on the shores of Lake Erie that welcomed his immigrant family a generation ago.
Thank you, George, for your service to our great state and our great nation.