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Local Leaders Remember Ed Koch

The former mayor passed away at the age of 88 early Friday morning from congestive heart failure.

New Yorkers of every borough reacted with sadness Friday to the death of Edward Koch, 88, who served three terms as mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989.

"Ed Koch: the ultimate New Yorker," said Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio. "He loved New York like nobody else. He had a lot to say, and he wasn't afraid to say it. I loved him for that. I wish we had more electeds and politicians who said the way it is. He told it the way it was."

Gulluscio said Koch was well-loved in Queens, and in particular Forest Hills, noting his close friendships with former Borough President Donald Manes and former U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro.

"He had a lot of friends in Forest Hills, from the Gardens all the way to Rego Park," Gulluscio said.

Gulluscio also said he was glad to know that the former mayor had lived to see an honor he had relished.

City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, D-Forest Hills, said she also admired his political candor.

"He was an icon, someone that people respected, he had a voice 'til the very end," Koslowitz said. "You never walked away not knowing how he felt. When I went online and read the news — saw that he died — I was shocked. A chill came over me. He will be sorely missed."

Koch was making headlines in Forest Hills right up to the end of his life, most recently by endorsing a Republican in a special election for Congress in 2011.

Koch endorsed Bob Turner for the Congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner — an endorsement that may have helped push Turner over the top. Koch, ever the political intellect, said his endorsement was designed to send a message to President Barack Obama on Israel. 

Turner remembered Koch as a dedicated public servant — despite their political differences — and said he was proud to have collected his endorsement.

"Ed Koch was a great New Yorker. A shrewd and honest civil servant, he was never shy to speak his mind and stand up for what he believed to be in the best interest of New Yorkers and all Americans," Turner said. "This honesty and bravado led to the beginning of our unique and cherished friendship. Mayor Koch's support was the critical element in my winning Democratic support during my campaign for the House. I am proud to have called him my friend."

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr., D-Forest Hills, had a lifetime of experience with Koch, who served with Joe Addabbo Sr. in Congress. 

Addabbo called Koch "the kind of public servant they just don't make anymore."

"The fact that far beyond his retirement age, he remained active, still promoting good government — that's something to be admired. I'd love to have that kind of drive as I go forward."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was truly saddened by the city's loss.

“Earlier today, New York City lost an irrepressible icon, our most charismatic cheerleader and champion, Edward I. Koch," Bloomberg said in a statement. "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."

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, D-Manhattan. The mayoral hopeful said 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."

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