Herman Farrell dies at 86; state assemblyman exemplified ‘the best of politics’

Herman “Denny” Farrell represented Harlem and other parts of Manhattan in the New York State Assembly since 1974. Photo Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuk

Former Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, who represented Harlem and other parts of Manhattan in the Assembly since 1974 with grace that earned him deep respect from fellow liberals and conservatives alike, died Saturday. He was 86.

No cause of death was immediately released, although he was in failing health since late last year. Farrell was known for his velvet touch in a hard-nosed political position as Ways and Means Committee chairman, from which he retired last year.

In that top job that impacted all legislation and spending, he astounded members of the chamber with his detailed defense of state budgets, often in shifts that lasted 12 hours or longer. His annual iron man display was always capped with repeated and lengthy praise in floor commentary from the Assembly Democrats as well as its most conservative Republicans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who knew Farrell since childhood, ordered flags around the state flown at half-staff in memory of Farrell.

“Denny exemplified the best of politics,” Cuomo said. “He was a true public servant who taught all of us what…

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