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WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Esty on Tuesday delivered what she said would be her final words on the House floor as a U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 5th District praising the nation’s democratic system that, while not perfect, can bring out the best in every citizen.

“I can say, without hesitation, the white of the Capitol dome gleaming in the night still sends shivers down my spine — and it always will because we are fortunate enough to live in this amazing country where we have the right to choose our leaders, to raise our voices and together to forge a better nation and a better future for all our children,” she said, referencing a statement once made by Michigan Democrat John Dingell, who was the longest serving member of Congress when he retired in 2015 after six decades in office.

Esty announced her retirement from Congress earlier this year after she came under criticism for mishandling a sexual harassment issue within her office involving a former chief-of-staff.

In her address, Esty noted that Dingell had been a mentor to her when she first arrived in Congress six years ago with her district in the national spotlight. Weeks before she was sworn into office, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed the lives of 20 six- and seven-year olds and six educators.

“My task immediately became how to truly care for and represent those families and be an effective voice for taking action to prevent gun violence. And at the time I did not even know how to find the elevator to get to my attic office in the Cannon House Office Building,” Esty said.

Dingell took her under his wing and helped her navigate the halls of the Capitol, she said.

“He gave me invaluable advice. He said: ‘Elizabeth always remember this: what you do is very important but you are not important.’ He also told me it is your job to know your district and vote your district. How right he was,” Esty said.

Esty said she learned her district and how to work with others in Congress to pass legislation. Among her accomplishments, she said, were bills to: assist veterans and their families, support STEM education for women and minorities, modernize infrastructure and address the nation’s opioid crisis.

“By working with people we were able to help government work for people,” she said.

Esty offered up some of the lessons she has learned in her time. Including:

• Democracy is something we do. It is not something we tweet about.

• If there’s nothing you would lose an election over, you shouldn’t run for office.

• American democracy is a great thing but it requires us to pitch in – to do our part.

• If we remember our common values rather than call into question each other’s integrity there is much we can do together.

Below is a transcript of her floor speech:

For the past six years it has been my extraordinary honor to serve the residents of central and northwest Connecticut as their representative in the House.

The title for this job is a humble one – Representative. Congress was not my dream but making a difference was. In 2005 my then 15-year-old daughter challenged me to either run for the local town council or stop complaining. I ran. And, I found I could get things done. First on the town council and then as a state representative. I came to Congress with a desire to make a difference for people, to help solve their problems, fight for affordable quality health care, insure education that addresses the needs of every child, work across the aisle for better jobs and better pay for Americans and keep us all safe and free. Yet I arrived in Congress in the aftermath of the terrible shootings of 20 six-and seven-year old children and six educators in the town of Newtown in my district.

Six years ago this coming Friday. My task immediately became how to truly care for and represent those families and be an effective voice for taking action to prevent gun violence. And at the time I did not even know how to find the elevator to get to my attic office in the Cannon House Office Building.

John Dingell longest serving member of Congress took me under his wing and helped me navigate these halls. He gave me invaluable advice. He said “Elizabeth always remember this: what you do is very important but you are not important.” He also told me it is your job to know your district and vote your district. How right he was.

I learned my district. My team and I worked with others to get lots of legislation passed to help veterans and their families, to support stem education for women and girls and children of color, to modernize and upgrade our infrastructure, and to fight the scourge of opioid addiction. And, we helped thousands of individuals at home cut through red tape and get much needed support.

By working with people we were able to help government work for people.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

• The American people are good and great and eager to see our democracy work better.

• Sharing credit is not only the right thing to do but it works.

• If you listen to others, if you look for and build on common ground you can get things done even with people whom you disagree on many issue.

• The first step is often the hardest.

• In politics you need to earn support, you are not entitled to it.

• You will fail sometimes. You will not meet your own expectations. You will disappoint people. You will lose an election. But, you get up the next day and you try harder.

• If there’s nothing you would lose an election over you shouldn’t run for office.

• Democracy needs people who are prepared to lose their job to make a difference.

• Democracy is not about perfection. Democracy is about doing your best every day and bring out the best in others.

• When we fail, which we will, we should not give up we should get right back to work.

• You shouldn’t run because you know you’ll win. You should run because there are things worth fighting for.

• If we remember our common values rather than call into question each other’s integrity there is much we can do together.

• Democracy is something we do. It is not something we tweet about.

• Democracy is hard it is not a spectator sport and you don’t need permission in this great country

• Democracy gives us each and every one of us the right to run to serve to make a difference

• American democracy is a great thing but it requires us to pitch in to do our part we have the opportunity, and in these challenging times for our nation and the world, I believe we have an obligation to get involved.

[Esty then thanked her family, her constituents and her staff before closing with the following remarks]

John Dingell’s words return to me “If you ever look up at the Capitol dome at night and it doesn’t send shivers down your spine you don’t deserve to be here because you aren’t sufficiently in awe of American democracy.”

I can say, without hesitation, the white of the capitol dome gleaming in the night still sends shivers down my spine. And it always will because we are fortunate enough to live in this amazing country where we have the right to choose our leaders, to raise our voices and together to forge a better nation and a better future for all our children.