2013-06-28 / Community

Bess And Ed Go To The Beach

By Dan Guarino

Talk about election years.

It was 1977 and the hot election that year was for mayor of New York City.

The New York Times described it as “a slugfest in which (incumbent Mayor Abe) Beame faced former Representative Bella S. Abzug; Representatives (Herman) Badillo and Edward I. Koch; the Manhattan borough president, Percy E. Sutton; Mario M. Cuomo, the New York Secretary of State; and Joel Harnett, a civic leader whose major contribution to the campaign was a lawsuit that prompted the release of a federal report criticizing the mayor’s stewardship.”

The city had plunged into a financial crisis and Beame’s competency to run New York became a central issue.

It was barely two years before, on October 30, 1975, that the front page of The Daily News famously sported the headline “Ford To City: Drop Dead.”

Apparently the city could count on no help from President Gerald Ford or the federal government.

To top it off, on July 13th–14th, 1977, New York City suffered a massive blackout.

Ironically, the only neighborhoods that were not without lights and power were those in the Rockaways and southern Queens, which were served by Long Island Lighting Company, not Con Edison. LILCO was the forerunner of LIPA.

In 1977, Ed Koch, an incumbent Democratic Congressman from Manhattan, was viewed as the “boring” candidate in the NYC City mayoral race.

Playing on this, Koch’s campaign consultant David Garth created the slogan, ‘’After eight years of charisma and four years of the clubhouse, why not try competence?” Sometime during that busy year candidate Koch and campaign co-chair (later Cultural Affairs Commissioner) Bess Myerson, hit the beach in Far Rockaway looking for votes.

Myerson herself was no stranger to bathing suits, having been a Miss America pageant winner.

Koch turned out to be a winner, too. He won out against main contender Mario Cuomo by 717, 376 to 587,913 votes or 49.99 to 40.07 percent.

He went on to serve three terms as mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989.

Footnote: Koch later unsuccessfully ran for Governor of New York State. He lost the Democratic primary to then Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo.

After a long and colorful career, Koch died of congestive heart failure on February 1st, 2013, at age 88.

If any Wave readers know who the people in this photo might be, or appear in it themselves, please e-mail that information to dan@rockawave.com.

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