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Corruption, AIDS, Racial Divide Marked Koch's Third Term As Mayor

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Mayor Ed Koch's third term at City Hall was by far his most difficult, and in the end, a massive corruption scandal and an outbreak of racial violence ensured that it would be his last. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

In 1985, Ed Koch was re-elected to a third term as mayor with a whopping 78 percent of the vote. He clearly did not plan for it to be his last, but things quickly took a turn for the worse.

Koch's friend and ally, Queens Borough President Donald Manes, committed suicide, and a corruption scandal involving bribery and extortion charges engulfed City Hall. The city's Department of Transportation and the Parking Violations Bureau were at the heart of the federal investigation, led by then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Koch administration officials and political allies were convicted, but the mayor was never personally implicated.

"I was so overwhelmed. So depressed. I thought I might commit suicide," Koch said in 2004.

Koch unveiled an ambitious housing plan, which became a lasting legacy of his mayoralty.

But the crack epidemic and AIDS crisis exploded on his watch, and some gay New Yorkers believed Koch was a closeted gay man himself. They felt he failed to address the pressing health needs of their community.

The city also became more racially divided. In 1986, a group of white teenagers turned on three black men in Howard Beach, chasing one into traffic, where he was killed.

Despite the obstacles, Koch pressed on, becoming city's first mayor to run for a fourth term.

But late in the 1989 campaign, a black teen, Yusuf Hawkins, was slain after a white mob attacked him in Bensonhurst, and Koch lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins, the man who would become the city's first black mayor.

At that point, Koch began a life beyond being mayor, a life that Koch soon embraced. But for many, he will always be remembered simply as the mayor.

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