Bronx Political Icon Badillo Laid to Rest
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 8- Often called a trailblazer for becoming the first Puerto Rican to hold the office of Bronx Borough President, as well as becoming the nation’s first Latino elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Herman Badillo has died at the age of 85.
According to his longtime friend and spokesman George Arzt, Badillo died on December 3, from complications related to congestive heart failure at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital in Manhattan.
Badillo was a young lawyer who had served as New York Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development before entering politics when he was elected Borough President in 1966.
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970, Badillo served four terms representing New York's 21st District in the South Bronx.
In 1977, Badillo stepped down from Congress to become deputy mayor of New York City under then Mayor Ed Koch from 1978 - 1979.
Badillo ran five unsuccessful campaigns for mayor of New York City- in his last attempt he was defeated by Michael Bloomberg in 2001. Badillo would later assist in Bloomberg's reelection campaign in 2005.
In recent years, Badillo was a senior counsel for the personal injury law firm Parker Waichman Alonso.
In a prepared statement announcing Badillo's death, George Arzt stated, "He lost many elections but gained respect as a real fighter and as the nation’s highest-ranking Puerto Rican office holder."
Governor Andrew Cuomo said of Badillo, "From his tenure as Bronx Borough President to his work leading the CUNY Board of Trustees, he was a shining example of how a dedication to civil service can make a difference in the world around us."
Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said of Badillo,"I am deeply saddened by the passing of a man whom I looked up to as a role model and who represented Latinos, Bronxites and all New Yorkers as an exemplary public servant."
Badillo was laid to rest after a private service held on December 7 at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan. He is survived by his wife Gail and son David from a previous marriage.