Longtime Manhattan Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr. died on Saturday, officials said. He was 86.
The Democratic powerbroker retired from the Assembly last fall after nearly 43 years in office. Representing the upper Manhattan neighborhoods of West Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights, Farrell was chair of the Assembly’s powerful Ways and Means Committee for more than two decades, overseeing the state budget and tax legislation.
He wrote the Consumer Protection and Banking Legislation Act that boosted car leasing protections and outlawed banks using residency as a way to discriminate who can open accounts. Farrell also helped pass the Neighborhood Preservation Companies Act to fund community organizations that advocate for tenants.
“Denny exemplified the best of politics,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement directing state government building flags be flown at half-staff on Tuesday in Farrell’s honor. “He was a true public servant who taught all of us what it means to be in elected office. He was fearless in his pursuit of justice.”
“Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, to Denny it did not matter which side of the aisle you called home,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. “He had an uncanny ability to bridge divides and bring people together for the good of New York.”
A high school graduate, Farrell worked as a cook and auto mechanic before landing his first government job as a confidential aide to a Supreme Court justice in 1966. He was also a district leader, Manhattan Democratic Party boss and a state party chairman, and worked in former Mayor John Lindsay’s Washington Heights office. In 1985, Farrell unsuccessfully ran against former Mayor Ed Koch.
Farrell had three children, playwright Herman Farrell III, Monique Guidry and 13-year-old Sophia Eileen, who was born when Farrell was 73.
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