02/01/2013 10:37 am ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Farewell, Mr. Mayor

All of New York City is in mourning today as we say goodbye to a great mayor, a great man and a great friend.

Ed Koch dedicated his life to the five boroughs. He loved this city fiercely and it loved him back. 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.

But he was more than just the sum total of his accomplishments. Mayor Koch was larger than life. He stood taller than the bridge that bears his name. His sense of humor and tenacious spirit personified this town. Ed Koch was New York.

I can remember seeing him on TV when I was a little girl and thinking to myself, "If I could ever meet him it would be a dream come true."

Years later when I was working at the Anti-Violence Project, I was in the midst of a very public battle with City Hall. Mayor Koch called me out of the blue. I had never spoken to him in my life. He told me, "You're doing the right thing. Don't back down, and call me if I can do anything."

Mayor Koch was never one to back down from a fight, and never above reaching out to a stranger to offer his help. Throughout my years in government, some of my proudest and fondest moments have been working and fighting by his side.

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.

On behalf of a grateful city, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his family, his friends and all those who loved him.