New Yorkers can expect a kinder and gentler Ed Koch in 1989, the mayor says. Koch, who faces a tough re-election campaign in 1989, met with reporters Tuesday and told them he would be toning down his act in the new year - but he also made the same statement last year.

Koch, who kept controversy swirling around him in 1988 with off-the-cuff comments about Jesse Jackson, Bess Myerson and Northern Ireland, told the reporters he actually considers himself an introvert.

"Most people think I'm an extraordinarily outgoing person," he said. "But I'm not at all. I am very retiring. My image of myself is as a reserved, retiring person, even shy person in my personal relationships. I don't like to display my heart on my sleeve."