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    Herman ‘Denny’ Farrell, 86, N.Y. lawmaker for 4 decades

    NEW YORK — Herman ‘‘Denny’’ Farrell, a New York assemblyman who worked to make banking and finance more consumer-friendly and earned respect for working across the political aisle during 42 years in office, died Saturday, his family said. He was 86 and retired last year.

    ‘‘Denny exemplified the best of politics,’’ Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday in ordering flags on state office buildings to half-staff.

    A Harlem Democrat, Mr. Farrell was first elected in 1975, chaired the Assembly banking committee for 15 years and headed the Ways & Means Committee for 23. He spearheaded legislation that required banks to offer low-cost checking accounts, created a free state-consumer hotline for credit-card rate and fee information, and sought to make customer solicitations from banks easier to understand. He was also known for his decorum and decency toward people across the political spectrum.


    ‘‘Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, to Denny it did not matter which side of the aisle you called home. He had an uncanny ability to bridge divides and bring people together for the good of New York,’’ said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat. Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb said Mr. Farrell’s ‘‘intelligence, demeanor, and grace were rare and refreshing traits that transcended political divides.’’

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    Born in Harlem on Feb. 4, 1932, Mr. Farrell served in the Army and worked for his parents’ dress manufacturing company before becoming an aide to a state Supreme Court judge and getting involved in Democratic politics the 1960s.

    He ran for the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor in 1985, losing to incumbent Ed Koch. Mr. Farrell, who had accused the two-term mayor of ignoring the poor and minorities while favoring wealthy real estate developers and suburbanites, later said he felt he had ‘‘brought out the issues, and I got people to think about them.’’

    Mr. Farrell chaired the state Democratic Committee from 2001 to 2006. When he retired in September, Cuomo named a state park along the Hudson River in his honor.

    ‘‘I never considered myself tough — I just think I do what I have to do to get things done,’’ Mr. Farrell told Newsday in 2003. ‘‘I think it is important to understand that you mean what you say. I try to be nice unless you give me a reason not to be.’’