Former city Councilman Walter McCaffrey, who represented western Queens for more than 15 years, died on Wednesday at age 64 from complications stemming from a car accident he was in back in May.
McCaffrey was a Woodside resident and represented a district that stretched from Long Island City to Middle Village from 1986 to 2001 before term limits forced him to retire. He was succeeded by former Councilman Eric Gioia. Mayor Bloomberg ordered flags to be flown at half staff Wednesday in honor of the former councilman.
A Democrat, McCaffrey was one of several elected officials in western Queens upset over a 1998 Congressional race in which then-Rep. Tom Manton retired too late to allow a primary, allowing him as Queens Democratic chairman, to choose Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) as his successor. McCaffrey, along with then-Councilman John Sabini and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside) had expressed interest in running for the seat.
McCaffrey made a bid for Congress in 2000 challenging Crowley, but dropped out of the race after allegations arose over illegally-spent campaign funds, though those allegations ultimately went unfounded.
Since leaving office, McCaffrey has worked as a lobbyist and fought Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of my predecessors, Walter McCaffrey,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) who currently holds McCaffrey’s seat. “I knew and respected the Council Member for nearly 20 years. He was one of the smartest and most clever elected officials in the history of Western Queens.”