There are few politicians that can rise to the level to be Mayor of New York City. Even fewer can claim to have been re-elected in such a position. But in the most rare of this highly selective group of elected officials are those that held the position for multiple terms and had landslide victories like Mayor Ed Koch. Such was his personality and success.
Long before billionaires took to political office, Mayor Ed Koch rallied New York City from fiscal dire straits to prosperity. That was the 80's in the City. A time where the phrase "How'm I doin" was as prevalent as "Norm" or "What you talkin bout Willis".
Few native New Yorkers 40 or older cannot recall Mayor Ed Koch. He transcended political limitations, winning both the Democrat and Republican ticket as mayor. But less known was the fact that Ed Koch was a first generation son of immigrants. That he served in World War II, earning two Battle Stars. That he was a NYC Councilman, State Assemblyman, Congressman, and the target of an international assassination threat as a result of his votes and positions on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in 1976.
What is not a surprise is that Mayor Koch was part of a very small, and today nearly non-existent, sect of politicians who believe that the positions a candidate has stands above the party they belong too. Mayor Koch was a Democrat of significance, but place his support behind Republican candidates at times: Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Al D'Amato, Peter T. King, George Pataki, in 2004 George W. Bush, and in 2010 George Phillips running for the NY-22.
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It was in 2010 that we met Mayor Koch. He and Ron Lauder stood before the press and clearly made a stand for George Phillips in Newburgh NY. It was during this time that the saying, "The measure of a man is how he treats people when no one is looking", came to fruition. Mayor Koch took time to speak with not only the press but the general public at the event. He even indulged M V Consulting Inc president Michael Vass, and took a picture with him just because he was asked.
NY GOP chairman Ed Cox stated in a press release,
"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."
At a time today where many politicians are categorized by their commitment to political party, by the words of devotion to country without service (specifically military) to back it up, by a steady and determined micromanagement of the public via an ever increasing horde of laws, Mayor Koch is a beacon of what politicians can aspire to.
As he once said
"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers."
New York has lost a statesman that has no equal, America has lost a favored granddad. Mayor Koch will be missed for many reason, and only a few are purely political. We can only hope that the remembrance of such dedication of spirit inspires elected officials at all levels, especially in New York.