Elected officials reacted Friday to the passing of Edward I. Koch, 88, who served three terms as mayor of New York in the '80s, offering their condolences to his loved ones and lamenting the loss of one of New York's most iconic leaders.
"People could agree or disagree with Mayor Koch about various issues, but we always knew that he was committed to and loved the City of New York," said Representative Yvette Clarke, D-8.
"He wanted to remain actively involved in the politics of our city, state, and nation – providing endorsements to both Democratic and Republican candidates, writing in many newspapers and magazines, and through his regular appearances as a ‘wise guy’ on the local news program, ‘Inside City Hall’– and he did," she continued. "Mayor Koch will be missed by all New Yorkers."
Councilman Mathieu Eugene, D-40, remarked on Koch's "wonderful work ethic," saying it embodied the spirit of the New Yorker.
"He came into leadership at a time when the city needed a strong voice; he worked tirelessly for the people," Eugene said. "New York has lost a great man today, his steady leadership and larger than life personality will be missed.”
Councilman Jumaane Williams, D-45, offered his prayers for peace and comfort for Koch's family, friends and supporters. "He will be remembered as a real and charismatic person, a man who said what he meant and led with conviction, he said. "I honor his service to our country as a sergeant in the United States Army and his work on issues like campaign finance and economic growth."
Williams noted that while he actively disagreed with Koch on a number of issues, he knew Koch had a deep love for New York City.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz called Koch "one of our city's greatest and most charismatic leaders."
"Although he was born in the Bronx and raised in Newark, Mayor Koch lived with his family in Brooklyn as a young man, and I have no doubt it’s where he got the Brooklyn attitude, swagger and 'chutzpah' that made him such a character and helped him navigate New York City through some of its most challenging times," Markowitz said.
He noted the Brooklyn flag over Borough Hall will be lowered in remembrance of Koch. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues," he continued.
Governor Andrew Cuomo echoed Markowitz's sentiments, saying, "With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of our most admired public leaders."
"No New Yorker has - or likely ever will - voice their love for New York City in such a passionate and outspoken manner than Ed Koch," Cuomo said. "New York City would not be the place it is today without Ed Koch's leadership over three terms at City Hall. Mr. Mayor was never one to shy away from taking a stand that he believed was right, no matter what the polls said or what was politically correct."
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it will be hard to imagine the city with Koch.
"We will miss his keen mind, sharp wit, and absolute devotion to making a great city the best in the world," he continued. "While we mourn his loss, we know that the legacy of his mayoralty, his commitment to civil rights and affordable housing, and his civic leadership long after he left City Hall, will live on for generations."
Koch dedicated his life to the five boroughs, said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, adding he made New York a better place both during and after his time in office.
"He loved this city fiercely and it loved him back," she said. "He saved us from the brink of bankruptcy, raised our spirits, and restored our city’s reputation in the world. He rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure, adding more than 150,000 units of affordable housing. And after leaving office he continued to make New York a better place, inspiring us through his writing, his activism, and his commitment to change."
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes (who, incidentally, lived in Ditmas Park during much of Koch's time as mayor) reflected on his time working under Koch's administation, saying it was an honor to serve as Fire Commissioner during that time.
"I have lost not only a friend but every New Yorker has lost a public servant who not only played an important role in guiding our city as a Councilman, Congressman and Mayor, but someone whose persona epitomized the city he loved," Hynes explained. "He always asked 'how am I doing?' Ed you did magnificent!"
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in many ways, Koch never stopped being mayor. "He was personally engaged in the issues of the day, including those involving the Police Department, frequently seeking information from us and offering his opinion personally and in writing."
"I was privileged to consider him a friend and I am grateful that I had a few more times to be with him, on Tuesday and again last night, before he finally left New York for someplace better - although he'd probably argue that's not possible," Kelly continued.
"Ed Koch's impact on New York City and the legal community will be felt for decades," said Michael Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department.
"One of his biggest legacies — the merit appointment of criminal and family court judges in New York City — ensures that our judicial system operates fairly and with the highest caliber of candidates," he continued. "I cannot overstate the importance of this. Mayor Koch established a system — which continues to this day — to help ensure that when you step into a courtroom, you are treated with professionalism, and your case is heard by the brightest of legal minds."
Cardozo said Koch was a "larger-than-life persona, a mensch, someone who lived and breathed New York City. He was a friend to me and a mentor to all. He would have loved the idea that his movie premiered on the day of his passing; what better way to spread Ed's good karma?"
Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his condolences on behalf of all New Yorkers and said the flags at all City buildings will fly at half-staff in his memory.
Bloomberg called Koch the city's most tireless, fearless and guileless civic crusader, saying he was a great mayor, man and friend.
"Through his tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, Ed helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback," he said. "We will miss him dearly, but his good works – and his wit and wisdom – will forever be a part of the city he loved so much."