Volume 74, Number 24 | Octuber 13 - 19 , 2004

Penn South co-ops focus on election closer to home

By Albert Amateau

Seven candidates are running for five seats on the Penn South co-op board of directors on Oct. 31 at the 42nd annual meeting of the moderate-income Chelsea complex.

Four of the candidates are seeking reelection to the 15-member board, three of them members of the dominant Associated Concerned Co-operators slate and one independent. The other three candidates include a member of the A.C.C., an independent and a member of the Voices of Penn South slate, the organized opposition to A.C.C.

Balloting will be by voting machine beginning at noon on Sun., Oct. 31, at the High School for Fashion Industries, 225 W. 24th St.

This month, three 7:30 p.m. “Meet your Candidates Nights” are scheduled: Thurs., Oct. 14 for Buildings 4, 5, 6A-B, 10, in the lobby of Building 6, 280-290 Ninth Ave.; Mon., Oct. 18 for buildings 1, 2A-B, 3A-B in the lobby of Building 2, 341-351 W. 24th St., and Thurs., Oct. 21 for buildings 7A-B. 8A-B, 9 in the Fashion Institute of Technology faculty lounge on the eighth floor of F.I.T. Building A on 27th St. and Eighth Ave.

Incumbents seeking reelection are:

* Gena Feist, an independent running for her third term on the board. Raised in Penn South where her parents still reside, she is a lawyer and a former state legislative aide whose main issues as a board member are shareholder participation and professional management of the co-op assessments. She opposes deferred maintenance and opposed the sale of co-op land to Hirth Realty without consulting shareholders. She called for a shareholder meeting prior to the sale to Hirth, but the motion was defeated.

* Linda Lowenstein, a member of the A.C.C. slate running for her second term on the board. A resident for 19 years who previously served on the board for three years, she is administrative director of the Columbia University Institute for Cancer Genetics. She has served five years on the Co-op Council, on the Penn South election committee, the operations committee and the finance and long-term planning committees. She sees the main challenges as managing and financing the renewal of the co-op’s 10 buildings built 42 years ago.

* Walter Mankoff, running on the A.C.C. slate for reelection to the board he has served since 1980 and now serves as treasurer and finance committee chairperson. Retired as associate research director of UNITE!, he is chairperson of Community Board 4. He has been deeply involved in co-op mortgage and contract negotiations, major leases and the complex’s co-generation plant. He played major roles in securing city tax relief in 2001 and in replacing co-op underground electric lines and is involved in planning the future elevator replacement.

* Miriam Zwerin, an A.C.C. member, is running for her first elected term on the board after being appointed in February to complete the vacated term of Karen Smith. A medical writer and editor for professional and trade journals, she has led the Penn South buildings and grounds committee and wrote A.C.C. leaflet articles in the 1986 and 2001 referendum campaigns to keep Penn South as a limited-equity and nonprofit moderate-income co-op. She is co-chairperson of the Co-op Council and the bylaws and house committees.

Candidates running for new terms are:

* Fran Kaufman, an A.C.C. member running for the seat of Robert Silverstein, a member of the board and its current president who is not running. A teacher in the city school system since the 1970s, Kaufman was chosen by the United Federation of Teachers to be a Teacher Center specialist. She also wrote sections of the new citywide Language Arts Curriculum Resource Guide. Mother of two grown children, she has lived in Penn South for six years and wants it to continue as a moderate-income limited-equity co-op.

* Vera Feingold, a Voices of Penn South member who has lived in the co-op since it opened in 1962. A bookkeeper, artist and teacher, she is a member of a slate calling for reconstituting Penn South because current tax breaks have not averted the need for borrowing and for equity increases to meet capital expenses. Such financing cannot continue, she says, because new elevators and expensive capital improvements loom in the future. She contends the board has not permitted open discussion of the benefits of converting Penn South to a market rate co-op.

* Joan Starr, an independent, is concerned about rodent control at Penn South and is calling for more direct communication by the board when problems like mice are raised at the co-op house committee and not addressed. Water and plumbing issues are also her priorities. Although she has campaigned against taking Penn South private, she believes residents who have quality-of-life issues are becoming disillusioned and might begin to consider privatization.

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