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David Dinkins Reflects On Death Of Fellow Former Mayor Ed Koch

Former New York City Mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan - Jan. 31, 2007 (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Former New York City Mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan – Jan. 31, 2007 (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Among the men who have held the elite position of New York City Mayor were Ed Koch and David Dinkins.

Koch passed away Friday at 2 a.m. at age 88.

In 1989, David Dinkins beat Koch in the mayoral primary, was then elected to succeed him at City Hall and served for one term.

He reflected on the death of his predecessor in a conversation with WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace and Pat Carroll.

Dinkins spoke of his first reaction upon learning of the sad news.

“Shock, frankly, all though I knew that Ed was not well and I knew that we has in intensive care. Still, I was not quite prepared for that,” Dinkins said. “He seems to be indestructible. I thought he’d go on forever.”

He was asked about what it was like to succeed Koch, a man of such vibrancy and filled with so many ideas.

“Well, not everyone remembers, but in ’77 when there was a very crowded field in the Democratic primary. There was incumbent Abe Beame and, of course, Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, Bella Abzug, Herman Badillo, Percy Sutton, and when Sutton lost and many of us who had supported Percy, there was going to be a run-off between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch and Percy led us to Ed Koch and we supported Ed. He, of course, won. We were very happy with him for a while. One of my law partners, Basil Paterson, became a deputy mayor, Badillo was a deputy mayor. But there came a time when we were less enthralled with Ed and it was at that point in ’89 that I ran against him and succeeded,” Dinkins said. “But Ed Koch and I have always gotten along pretty well. He will tell you what he thinks. If you want his view on something, be prepared to not like it perhaps. But I found him quite a fellow and I liked Ed Koch.”

Koch was a man of optimism and hope.

“It was tremendously important. People tend to forget that in the crisis of the mid-70s, it was Ed Koch who not only paid off the federal loan but paid it off ahead of time and that was because he knew how important it was for the image of the city to be of fiscal prudence and give we had just come through, this was tremendously important and he handled it well,” Dinkins said.

“Some of the best people I know ever in government worked for Ed Koch. I have in mind particularly Diane Coffey and George Arzt,” Dinkins added.

“We’re learning and hearing from some people’s memories that he was able to admit to maybe he didn’t make the right choice in certain things that he did and admit that in later years and people kind of came around to him who might not have been such supporters earlier,” Carroll said to Dinkins.

“We all make mistakes, of course. But it’s a big person who is able to acknowledge and error,” Dinkins said.