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Hope Reichbach, Remembered

The day after the passing of Councilmember Steve Levin's aide, her friends and colleagues remember her.

The morning after the passing of an up-and-comer in Brooklyn politics, friends and colleagues remembered as a smart and persistent woman who was committed to her community.

"Hope was a wonderful, vivacious and tough young woman. A beautiful soul who cared deeply about her community and her family," said Councilmember Steve Levin and Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a joint statement.

"We are deeply saddened by her passing and will miss her more than words can ever describe."

Reichbach, 22, was communications director to Levin's office, but she was a rising star in the world of Brooklyn politics with impressive political ambitions of her own. Last year, the lifelong Boerum Hill resident ran for district leader, snagging 37 percent of the vote against veteran incumbent Jo Anne Simon.

"It's a horrible thing, she was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her," said Simon. "She was ambitious and very bright."

Police were called to Reichbach's Schermerhorn Street apartment Thursday around 2:35 p.m., where she was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of her death was not immediately released, though according to police no criminality is suspected. An autopsy is expected to be conducted Friday afternoon.

“She was a very dynamic force. I’m at a loss for words,” said Seamus Campbell, 21, Secretary of the Brooklyn Young Democrats, where Reichbach was Northern Regional Vice President. Campbell said he considered Reichbach to be a mentor of sorts, sharing her vast knowledge of local politics and connections with other members of the group. 

“She tried to bring out the best in everyone,” he said. “She was only six months older than me so it’s absolutely shocking.”

Reichbach was on track to a bright future, with impressive accomplishments under her belt despite her young age. She first joined Levin’s staff during his 2009 campaign and became his communications director after the elections. While still a senior at Hunter College High School, Reichbach even brought a suit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for illegal military recruitment tactics.

She spent nearly her entire life in Boerum Hill, only leaving the neighborhood to attend college at New York University. As the daughter of prominent Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach, she was raised in a progressive and politically aware household, developing an interest in politics at an early age.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez on Friday afternoon called Reichbach "a rising star" and a "dedicated civic servant."

"A natural for public service, Hope Reichbach was a young woman with many dreams and so much promise," said Velazquez in a statement.

Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association, has worked closely with Reichbach since she began working in Levin's office in 2009. After hearing of Reichbach's passing on Thursday night, Kolins said he enjoyed working with her.

"I always appreciated her openness and her honesty," he said. "I felt that she was really concerned about doing well for the community.”

Though they were "not politically on the same page," Simon said it was great to have Reichbach taking on the big, important issues in the community. Reichbach was particularly involved with

"That's how you learn, and it's great," she said. "That's what we want young people to do."

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who endorsed Reichbach in her run for district leader, extolled her as a “committed and passionate public servant.”

“All of Brooklyn’s thoughts and prayers are with Hope’s parents, her friends, and of course, my condolences to Councilman Levin and his staff,” he added.

"It's a sad, sad day," said Simon. "It's very heart wrenching."

 

A memorial service is scheduled for noon on Sunday at Mount Sinai Synagogue at Cadman Plaza.

Andrew April 29, 2011 at 09:35 PM
very sad
lois May 01, 2011 at 11:29 AM
I cannot believe that what should be a condolence page turned into political rants. I think the above comments are inappropriate. A 22 year old girl is dead - very sad, whatever the circumstances. My sincere condolences to her family, friends and coworkers.
Jim Devor May 01, 2011 at 05:11 PM
I only knew her briefly in the context of her work in assisting and representing Council Member Levin in their efforts to broker agreements between District 13 and District 15 parents on contentious issues which tended to divide us. She had that rare combination of a good heart, sharp intellect, enormous patience and terrific competence. To say she will be missed is obviously a cliche - but it's also undoubtedly true.
valérie Bachelard May 04, 2011 at 08:27 AM
I'm so so so sorry, no words.... Al my love and tenderness to her Dad, and a big hug to her mom Valérie from Uzès in France

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