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Remembering Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch: Statements And Condolences

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch and former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo attend a party hosted by Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. publisher of the New York Times at the Frederick P. Rose Hall August 30, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Bowers/Getty Images)

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch and former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo attend a party hosted by Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. publisher of the New York Times at the Frederick P. Rose Hall August 30, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Bowers/Getty Images)

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RIP Ed Koch

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Statements and condolences have been pouring in since news that former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died early Friday morning.

The larger-than-life Koch, who walked through the streets flashing his signature thumbs-up sign, died at 2 a.m. at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital, spokesman George Arzt said.

Below are statements from officials and others remembering the city’s 105th mayor, Ed Koch:

President Barack Obama

“Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker. He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people. In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s loved ones, and to the city that survives him.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“Earlier today, New York City lost an irrepressible icon, our most charismatic cheerleader and champion, Edward I. Koch. He was a great mayor, a great man, and a great friend.  In elected office and as a private  citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader. 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. 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. His spirit will live on not only here at City Hall, and not only on the bridge the bears his name, but all across the five boroughs.

“I’m expressing my condolences on behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, and I know so many of them will be keeping Mayor Koch and his family and friends in their thoughts prayers. As we mourn Mayor Koch’s passing, the flags at all city buildings will be flying at half-staff in his memory.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of our most admired public leaders. Ed Koch embodied the highest ideals of public service and his life was dedicated toward making New York – the city and our state – a better place for all. From his days on the front lines of World War II, his time in Congress, to his leadership as Mayor guiding New York City through difficult years, Ed Koch never strayed from his unwavering commitment to serving others.

“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. 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.

“Many times in my life I have turned to Ed Koch for his advice and guidance. Just yesterday I spoke with the Mayor to wish him courage and strength, and let him know he was on all of our thoughts and prayers. I will miss his friendship, and we will all miss his perpetual optimism and tireless commitment to continually striving to improve our city, state, nation and world. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I send my condolences to his family and friends.”

Rev. Al Sharpton

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch. Throughout his twelve-years of being Mayor I was one of his most vociferous critics. In fact, my first arrest was leading a sit-in on him about summer jobs for youth in 1978. We later united and worked together around the country in a national campaign for non-violent drug offenders to give them a second chance in life and we ended up getting to know and understand each other. Although we argued about everything from my marching in Bensonhurst, to Florida and Trayvon Martin, and although we disagreed on politics from his views on President Obama to other matters, I have found that he was never a phony or a hypocrite. He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. He meant what he said. He fought for what he believed. May he rest in peace.”

Rep. Peter King

“I am terribly saddened by the passing of Mayor Ed Koch. Ed Koch was a true friend and trusted advisor. Ed Koch personified the spirit of New York. New York’s Mayor For Life is now New York’s Mayor for eternity. May he Rest In Peace.”

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

“As a lifelong New Yorker, it’s hard to imagine this city without Ed Koch. We will miss his keen mind, sharp wit, and absolute devotion to making a great city the best in the world. 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. I offer my sincere condolences to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Sen. Malcolm A. Smith

“My heart is heavy this morning as my thoughts and prayers are with the family of former Mayor Ed Koch. I had the pleasure of working for Koch as one of his aides at City Hall. I was able to learn a lot from him and it was truly a pleasure to work for one of the greatest mayors that this city has ever seen. He will be deeply missed.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

“New York would not be the safest big city in America today if Ed Koch hadn’t spearheaded one of the most important criminal justice reforms in New York City’s history as Mayor: selecting Criminal Court judges based on merit instead of political connections. Every New Yorker has the right to walk the streets of our city without fear and all New Yorkers deserve equal access to justice. We’d be far, far further from these goals today if not for Mayor Ed Koch’s foresight and vision and courage.

“On a personal level, Mayor Koch was always available to me with wise advice, counsel, and always delivered with a sense of humor.  I will miss him dearly.”

Joe Lhota, Former MTA Chairman and 2013 Mayoral Hopeful

“I will miss Ed Koch. His leadership in leading the City out of the financial control period was flawless.”

William C. Rudin, Chairman, Association for a Better New York

“Our City mourns our beloved Mayor Ed Koch, and we mourn a dear friend. Mayor Koch was a stalwart leader for New York City. His dedication and love for New York never wavered. His wit, charm and humor were matched only by his passion for the city he loved. He led New Yorkers through many of the most trying times we’ve faced, including the near-bankruptcy of the 70s. His impact is beyond measure – he set the standard for how to manage our great city. He was a true champion of New York, and he will be missed.”

William Rapfogel, CEO, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty

“All New Yorkers share the loss of a great American and possibly the best Mayor the City of New York ever had. Ed Koch was a genuine friend to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, at one time serving as a letter-writer for our direct mail campaign. He was a source of encouragement and friendship to our organization and to me personally.

“I had the privilege of working for Mayor Koch during his first term as he led our City out of the abyss of near financial collapse. He was innovative, thoroughly engaged, a great manager, detail-oriented and compassionate — a rare combination for a government chief executive. We were able to talk extensively about Israel, improving New York and about my family and his sister, Pat, and her family, of which he was very proud. When he attended the bris of my eldest son, he was typical Koch when he proclaimed, “the lox is great and the bagels were OK.”

“His devotion to Israel and the Jewish people was steadfast and always on his mind. It is what brought him to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. We will miss him and at the appropriate time, Met Council will dedicate a memorial in his honor.”

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

“He once said, ‘I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I’m gone. This is my home.’ Ed Koch will never leave New York City.  He will exist forever in our hearts, and in the millions of lives he touched.”

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes

“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. It was an honor to serve as Fire Commissioner during his administration. He always asked ‘how am I doing?’ Ed you did magnificent!”

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly

“In many ways Ed 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.”

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu

“Ed Koch was a true New Yorker, outspoken and feisty to the very end. He lived a great life of 88 years, leaving an indelible imprint on the City, and we will miss him.”

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos

“With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of its true larger-than-life political leaders. He had a passion for public service, and an outsized personality to match.”

“As a Congressman, Mayor and political commentator, Ed Koch brought enthusiasm to everything he did, and he never stopped fighting for the causes he believed in.”

“All those who knew or worked with Ed Koch, or were fortunate enough to meet him, understand today that he’ll be sorely missed by the people of New York.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

“I am deeply saddened that we have lost a true champion for New Yorkers. Mayor Ed Koch was as singular and unique to New York City as the Empire State Building. I will always fondly remember the last time I saw the Mayor, our conversation
went from Middle East policy, to the best Chinese food in New York City to movies, only as Ed Koch could. His great intellect, wit, humor, passion and compassion will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer

“Mayor Edward I. Koch was a larger than life figure, a man who embodied the fighting spirit of New York and became a worldwide symbol of the City he loved. He helped rescue New York from a threatened bankruptcy, and led the City’s economic and cultural rebirth with a bold, straight-talking style that endeared him to millions. He continued to be a beacon of common sense long after his Mayoral years ended, and this City will miss his wisdom, his trademark zingers and his unflagging engagement with public life. When he asked “How Am I Doing?” the question could have been asked of us because Ed Koch so vividly reflected the City that is now diminished with his passing. My thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad time.”

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

“When Ed Koch said “How’m I doing?” it was both a boast and an act of humility. That simple phrase captured the fact that he was deeply connected to everyday New Yorkers. And that connection fueled his urgency and his greatness. He helped bring us out of the fiscal crisis, he helped bring the South Bronx back, he helped give us hope again — all because it was personal for him. He simply wouldn’t let New York City fail. Like many, I often disagreed with Ed. But I also got to know and learn from this great man, with a heart and mind as big as the city he loved. Ed Koch is gone now, but his energy and inspiration can never be forgotten by those of us lucky enough to have known him.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

“As a young priest living in Saint Louis and Washington, D.C. during the 1980’s, New York meant two things to me: John Cardinal O’Connor and Mayor Ed Koch. These two men showed how, despite some deep philosophical disagreements, they could not only work together for the good of the City of New York, but could become close personal friends. Indeed, Mayor Koch was a good friend to three of my predecessors, Cardinal Cooke, Cardinal O’Connor, and Cardinal Egan, and, I am happy to have been able to consider him a friend of mine as well. It is, perhaps, some measure of the respect that Ed Koch – a proud, Jewish man, as he described himself to me – continued to hold among Catholics that a seat was always held for him at Midnight Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and, at the annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner, the largest ovation invariably went not to the evening’s guest speaker, not to the Archbishop of New York, but to Mayor Koch.”

“I extend my personal condolences to Mayor Koch’s sister Pat, and to his many friends and loved ones. He will have special place in my prayers, and in those of the Catholic community he loved and worked closely with, this weekend.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

“Ed Koch was one of the best we ever had. He was a great mayor, a great advisor, and a great friend.”

“He was an energetic cannonball of a man with an abiding love for our remarkable city. His steady leadership during the financial crisis of the 1970’s helped turn the city around. He inspired other people with confidence, in him, in themselves, and in New York. His many achievements, from the merit selection of judges to the rebuilding of entire neighborhoods in the city, resonate to this day.”

“I will miss him. We will all miss him. I just wish I had once last chance to answer his question and tell him:  ‘Mr. Mayor, I think you’re doing great!'”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey

“I am saddened by the passing of Mayor Ed Koch, a loyal friend, great supporter, remarkable public servant, and legendary New Yorker.  Ed Koch’s contributions in Congress and as Mayor were pivotal in New York’s development into the vibrant, safe, prosperous, and one-of-a-kind city that we know today.  Just earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the moving tribute to his life of public service.   Ed’s ability and enthusiasm for engaging and connecting with New Yorkers will not be forgotten, nor will his commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship.  His family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.”

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

“The world is a less interesting place now that Ed Koch has left us.”

“He was a great leader, a dynamic and engaging politician, a true New Yorker.”

“He lived his life without apology and he was beloved for it. No one embodied New York City like Ed Koch. When times were tough, he was tougher and his resilience, sense of humor and candor made him accessible to his millions of admirers.”

“Ed was a great mayor for New York City and he was also my friend. He was there for me when I needed him to be and I could always count on his support and advice. They don’t make many people like Ed Koch and I feel lucky to have known him. He will be missed.”

New York GOP Chair Ed Cox

“Ed Koch personified New York City: he was animated; he wasn’t afraid to use his trademark humor and wit to resolve a problem; he was fair and balanced in his approach to government and politics, crossing the aisle to endorse Republicans when he felt it was best for the city or country.

“Ed Koch was a New York City icon, and a reminder that even a hatcheck boy from the Bronx can grow up to become Mayor. On behalf of the officers and staff of the New York Republican State Committee, Tricia and I offer our deepest sympathies to the Koch family.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler

“Mayor Koch was a quintessential New Yorker and a central figure in New York life for 40 years. For decades, he embodied the soul of our city, unfailingly defending and advocating for New York and everyone in it. I was proud to have worked with him for years during his mayoralty and after on so many issues affecting the city and Israel, of which he was an unflinching supporter.”

“In contemplating his rich and colorful life, I am struck by how honest, tough, hardworking and immune to pretense he was. New York has lost a great champion.”

Sen. Tony Avella

“I, along with the entire City of New York, mourn the loss of my friend and political mentor Ed Koch.  I had the privilege of working with Mayor Koch from 1984 until the end of his administration as his Queens representative.  For Koch, there was no problem too small or too big to address on behalf of his constituents throughout the City.  If it was important to them, it was important to Mayor Koch.  Years later, as an elected official, I modeled my governing style after his, always staying true to the people who elected you. He was always trying to find ways to make the City better and his lasting legacy will be that the City is in a far better place thanks to Mayor Koch.”

“Near the end of our time together in City Hall, Mayor Koch gave me a signed picture and letter, grateful for all that we had accomplished in the years before on behalf of the City we loved.  Below his picture, lies his quote ‘The truth is still relevant.’  For all that goes on in politics and government, the truth does still matter.  Integrity and honesty matter.  Mayor Koch knew this and that is what guided him throughout his years in City Hall and beyond.  This picture still hangs in my office today, a constant reminder of what is possible in this City and motivation to stay faithful to the ideals Mayor Koch held so dear.  Rest in Peace Mayor.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

“Edward I. Koch served as a Big Apple Mayor with a big personality who embodied the spirit, wit and resilience of New York City. During his tenure, Mayor Koch saved the City from bankruptcy, led us through a crippling transit strike and engineered the development of thousands of units of affordable housing that have benefited generations of working families in some of our toughest neighborhoods.”

“A pioneer in his day, he reinvented in no uncertain terms what it meant to be a big city Mayor. His journey has now ended, and so it is instead left to us to ask one last time: How did he do? All throughout our City the people are making it clear: He did well.”

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams

“My prayers for peace and comfort go to the family, friends and supporters citywide of former Mayor Ed Koch. He will be remembered as a real and charismatic person, a man who said what he meant and led with conviction. 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. While I actively disagreed with him on a number of issues, he had a deep love for New York City.”

Cardinal Edward Egan

“It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Mayor Ed Koch.  He has been for me a good friend and wise counselor every since my earliest years in New York as an Auxiliary Bishop to John Cardinal O’Connor.  Just a few weeks ago, I visited the Mayor in the hospital.  He was at his lively and humorous best.  Mayor Koch was clearly one of New York’s greatest.  I will remember him in my prayers with much affection.”

Congressman Charles Rangel

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, former New York City Mayor Edward Koch. With a personality as vibrant as the city he led, Ed was the hero the city needed in challenging times. Most importantly, Ed was a wonderful man and a loyal friend whose loss pains me to bear.”

“The life of Ed Koch was one of enthusiasm, dedication, and committed public service. Ed embodied all that a leader should: charisma, principles, and pride. As a Member of Congress and New York City Mayor, Ed was seldom afraid to speak his mind and never backed down from a fight. In his decades of service to New York City, Ed became nothing short of an icon, as large as the City itself. His legacy is defined by the turnaround he orchestrated, taking the city from austerity to surplus. The hurdles that stood in his path were never too high for the bold leaps Ed would take.”

“While Ed and I shared many differences of opinion, of which some were emotional as well as political, we always concluded with the great deal of respect that we had for each other. In the recent years, I am glad we were able to spend private time together to recount some of our past conflicts and laugh about it. Ed had a great sense of humor. I will always appreciate the fervor he displayed towards serving the people of New York City.”

“New Yorkers will forever remember Mayor Koch standing by subway cars each morning to greet his fellow neighbors, giving a face to the city they cherished. However, I will never forget Ed as the incredible man he was, who never left my side through times of need. My prayers go out to his family and friends, as well as to all residents of the city where Ed left his indelible mark. He will forever be cherished in our hearts as New York City’s illustrious warrior of the people.”

Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.

“It is with a heavy heart I say goodbye today to my longtime friend and mentor, Ed Koch. Ed was a brilliant politician who was quick with his wit and, after he left office, he was a sage advisor who provided me with invaluable insight. A man who marched to the beat of his own drum, Ed did what he thought was right and paid little heed to the critics. Three times, he bravely went against the wishes of his political party and proudly endorsed me for office. I’ll be forever grateful for his immense support. Among Ed’s many quotes was my personal favorite, ‘Public service is the noblest of professions if it is done honestly and well.’ Ed Koch did both.”

Council Member Debi Rose

“I join New Yorkers in mourning the passing of New York City’s 105th Mayor, Ed Koch. He could be feisty and combative if he disagreed with your policies, but he always treated people with respect, and was always a gentleman. Above all, he loved New York City passionately – to paraphrase Poet W.H. Auden, the city was his North, his South, his East and West, his working week and his Sunday rest. We thought that he would last forever, but we were wrong. He was a New York City icon, a tireless public servant, an effective advocate for the city, and he will be missed. I offer my sincere condolences to his family.”

Former Speaker of the City Council Peter F. Vallone

“The best way to remember Ed Koch is in his own words. In my capacity as head of the City council from 1986 through 1989 while Ed Koch was still the mayor, I was present with him on many occasions when he told a large audience mad at something or other he said or did, he would say:

“Look if I were a baseball player and got a hit only 3 times I batted out of every 10 times I batted, I would be a pretty good player, wouldn’t I? So if you agree with what I do or say 3 out of 10 times, I’m doing pretty good as mayor too.”

“But if I got a hit 7 out of 10 times., I would be the greatest baseball player ever, right? And if you agree with me as mayor 7 out of 10, which most of you do, I must be the greatest mayor ever! On the other hand if you agree with me 10 out of 10, then you’re crazy!”

“Many still think Ed Koch was single. That’s not true. He was married to this city, and loved it with a passion and devotion from beginning to end. I told him many times he could be one of the greatest stand up comedians if he chose to, as well as being one of the greattest mayors ever. Perhaps one of the greatest tributes you could say about any person is that when you mention his name, a smile comes to your face, and that is how I will always remember my dear friend Ed Koch.”