Do Mayors Matter?


...The city’s fiscal crisis and rising crime rates led to the election of Ed Koch, who cut spending and talked tough on crime. But Jonathan Soffer’s [of Polytechnic Institute of NYU] new biography of Koch reminds us of the the mayor's complexities. His electoral success was not a wholesale repudiation of New York’s progressivism. It was, rather, the election of someone who sold himself as a “liberal with sanity,” which might just mean a liberal who learns from the past. Koch was lucky enough to preside over a much more economically dynamic period of New York history than Lindsay, but he helped his luck along by getting the city’s finances in order. Still, neither he nor his successor, David Dinkins, managed to make the city safe. Their failure ultimately led to the election of Rudy Giuliani and his far more radical approach to crime.

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