NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell died Saturday at the age of 86.

Farrell spent 42 years in office and earned respect for working across the political aisle.

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The Harlem Democrat was first elected in 1975 and headed the Assembly banking committee and later the powerful Ways & Means Committee. He spearheaded legislation that required banks to offer low-cost checking accounts and created a free state consumer hotline for credit card rate and fee information.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Farrell “exemplified the best of politics” and ordered flags to be flown at half staff Tuesday in his honor.

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“I am heartbroken by the passing of my friend, mentor and partner-in-government Denny Farrell,” he said in a statement. “Denny was a compassionate leader, a brilliant political mind and a trailblazer who left an indelible mark on New York politics.”

The Democratic National Committee described Farrell as “principled, honest and humble.”

“New Yorkers lost a remarkable public servant today, and the Democratic Party lost a legendary leader. For more than four decades, Denny Farrell fought tirelessly for working families in Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, and across the state,” it said in a statement. “Compassionate and principled, honest and humble, Denny earned the respect of leaders in both parties and was never afraid to work across the aisle if it meant getting things done for his constituents.”

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb called him “a true gentleman.”

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