By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn officials this week remembered William Lynch, a former aide to then-Mayor David Dinkins who was influential in city and state politics for 40 years. Lynch died on Friday at 72 of kidney disease.
Lynch was also instrumental in planning Nelson Mandela’s visit to New York in 1990, during which Mandela spoke at the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn.
“Bill Lynch was a giant in New York City politics, and – on a personal level – a mentor and a friend to me for the last 25 years," Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said. De Blasio, a former councilman representing Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, worked with Lynch as a junior staffer during the Dinkins administration.
"Sometimes we were on the same side, sometimes we were on opposite sides, but he was always on the side of economic and social justice for New Yorkers," De Blasio said.
One of his rivals in the mayoral race, former Bay Ridge Councilman Sal Albanese, said, “As a deputy mayor, he was always responsive to the needs of the neighborhoods I represented on the City Council. I'll never forget our time together on the campaign trail. He was funny, smart, and never stopped working to change our city for the better.”
Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush) said, “I don't think words can really express the enormous impact that this statesman had on the entire city. I am fortunate that I was one of untold many who could count on wise guidance from Bill during my brief political and governmental career.”
Bertha Lewis, head of the Brooklyn-Based Black Institute and formerly of ACORN, said, “A lot of what I know about politics and organizing, I learned from Bill Lynch. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest political minds of our era, and will forever be known as a giant in politics. He was a legend on the gridiron and on the gritty streets of Harlem and his passing creates a huge chasm in our city and our nation’s political fabric.”
Lynch, the son of a Long Island potato farmer, served in the U.S. Air Force before entering politics. He started his political career in Harlem, managing various Democratic candidates running for district leader and statewide office, including the successful 1985 state Senate race of David Paterson, who later served as governor. He eventually became chief of staff to Dinkins while Dinkins was Manhattan's borough president in the 1980s.
Then, in 1989, Lynch acted as Dinkins' campaign manager in his successful bid to become the city's first black mayor, running against Republican Rudy Giuliani. He later served as a deputy mayor for intergovernmental affairs during Dinkins' administration.
Later in life, he became a political consultant, advising numerous candidates running for citywide and national offices. From 1997 to 2003 he served as a vice chair to the Democratic National Committee, and in 2004 he was a deputy campaign manager for then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, of Massachusetts.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Lynch always put people first.
"Bill Lynch had a heart even bigger than the city he served," the Clintons said in a statement. "Whether he was fighting for working families at AFSCME or running political campaigns or working in City Hall, Bill always put people first.