NEW YORK - Noach Dear was a well connected political figure, who as a City Councilman was a fierce advocate for Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish Community.

Later, as a Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice, he was seen as a champion for the underdog.

"He genuinely cared about little people and really worked to make sure that in a city of eight and a half million people that people didn’t fall through the cracks and they didn’t get hurt by the justice system or the legislative system when he was a member of the City Council," said Met Council CEO David Greenfield.

Greenfield is a former City Councilman who held the same seat Dear did for nearly 20 years. Dear represented Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst from 1983 to 2001 before becoming a judge. 

The 66-year-old died Sunday after a battle with COVID-19. 

"He was generally well liked and honestly well connected.  He was a top fundraiser for Al Gore when he ran for president. He was very politically astute," Greenfield said.

But Dear also had his critics. 

There was a backlash in the 1980's over his objection to a bill to stop housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

As a councilman he faced investigations into allegations of conflict of interest involving the allocation of his political, business and charitable funds. But no charges were brought. 

On the bench he was an advocate for racial equality in policing and a fierce fighter against harassment from debt collectors.

"I think when he started off he was more strident in his views. I think as he got older and wiser I think he realized the different perspectives and I think he was really just focused on making sure everyone got a fair shake in his courtroom," Greenfield said.

After his death there was an outpouring of condolences from political leaders past and present including from former mayor Rudy Guiliani whom Dear, a Democrat, crossed party lines to endorse in the 1993 election.

In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "He had a fighting spirit and always put his constituents first."

It's a sentiment that's being echoed by many in his former district.