NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Herman Badillo, a longtime fixture in New York City politics and the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress, died Wednesday.
A spokesman, George Arzt, said the 85-year-old died of congestive heart failure.
Badillo, who served in Congress from 1971 to 1977, was the first person born in Puerto Rico to do so. He was also the first Puerto Rican to serve as Bronx Borough President and the first to run for mayor in a major mainland U.S. city.
While he was unsuccessful in a number of attempts to win city-wide or state-wide office, Badillo held appointed positions on both levels. He ran for mayor four times, first as a Democrat and later as a Republican.
Badillo returned to the Democratic Party in 2011.
Badillo moved to New York to live with an aunt after his parents died when he was 11. He followed a traditional route for newcomers, graduating from the City College of New York and then first in his class from Brooklyn Law School. While he was at it, he became a certified public accountant.
Ruben Diaz Jr., the current Bronx borough president, said Badillo inspired his own political career.
"He was a true Bronxite and the epitome of a passionate leader who truly cared for his community," Diaz said. "Herman Badillo worked assiduously throughout his career to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals across our borough and city."
Gov Andrew Cuomo also praised Badillo.
"From his tenure as Bronx borough president to his work leading the CUNY Board of Trustees, Herman was a shining example of how a dedication to civil service can make a difference in the world around us," Cuomo said in a statement
Arzt said that former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will deliver a eulogy at a private service Sunday at a funeral home. Badillo served in the Giuliani administration.