When it came to getting candidates elected, David Axelrod and Karl Rove had nothing on Peggy Braverman.
Braverman, the deputy county clerk for the Bronx from 1985 to 1999, died on Sunday, March 13 at age 89, leaving her mark on the borough by mentoring and guiding a whole generation of politicians and elected officials.
She also worked in the borough president’s office, worked for Councilman Stephen Kaufman, and was also Democratic district leader for the 81st Assembly District.
Braverman was born in Knickerbocker Village on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but later moved up to Pelham Parkway and lived in the shadow of Christopher Columbus High School.
Jeff Klein, now a state senator, and Jimmy Vacca, now a city councilman, are two ubiquitous Bronx politicians whose careers Braverman helped jump-start.
“She helped Freddy Ferrer become borough president. She helped myself,” Klein said. “She helped people get elected to council and congress and she was very influential behind the scenes in helping start the careers of a lot of local Bronx politicians. She was very active and very powerful in Bronx politics before women played such a role. She laid the groundwork for women playing such a role in Democratic politics in the Bronx.”
Braverman recognized that politics played a part in people’s daily lives and did as much work on the streets as she did in offices. Those close to her said she was always working on finding jobs for friends who had been laid off, or apartments for people who were being evicted.
She was also parents association president of “every school that her children went to,” according to her daughter Shelly.
While PTA president at Columbus, she had dealt with and helped a young Jimmy Vacca, who wanted to go to the school so badly, but could not because he lived outside of the school’s district.
“She was very compassionate,” Vacca said. “She befriended many, many people, and gave motherly advice. She stayed active as long as she could. She loved to be involved in her community and I think she was one of the old timers as she considered friendship and loyalty very important.”
When she retired as deputy county clerk in 1999, Congressman Eliot Engel made a statement in front of the United States Congress in recognition of Braverman’s work.
“Peggy Braverman is that rare person who serves her neighborhood and her fellow citizens in so many capacities, someone, who by their service, does so much to make government work and the community prosper.”