Katay House pundits weigh in on presidential election

On Thursday, September 25 residents at Kittay House (above) met in a conference room to discuss the upcoming presidential election. The group of seniors expressed diverse points of view. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

In an otherwise serene corner of the Bronx, where seniors retire to an active social life, a group of homegrown “pundits”, many of whom are in their 90s, are weighing in on the upcoming presidential election.

The group discusses everything from abortion rights to the current fiscal crisis through the prism of 60 years of voting experience spanning FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and Clinton.

The group of 13 Democrats and 2 Republicans, representative of the liberal-leaning Bronx, met for a roundtable discussion at Kittay House – a 295-unit, 5-acre garden oasis that is part of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program for those 62 years or better located at 2550 Webb Avenue in University Heights.

“As far as I can tell, most people here are middle class and leftist leaning, and they are much better informed than most people,” noted 96-year-old Sidney Kronish, one of the moderators of the discussion, who holds a PhD in Economics and taught at Montclair State University. “That is what makes this so interesting, and what makes Kittay House a vibrant community.”

The discussion, which was one of many held at the safe and secure independent living center founded in 1970, took place on Thursday, September 24, and covered the topics debated recently by presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

Issues such as the national debt, experience of the candidates, and ongoing war weighed heavy on the minds of the seniors gathered from across the political and social spectrum.

“This first debate gives us ideas that we hadn’t thought of, and makes those people who are sort of removed part of the bru-ha-ha,” said Rhoda Kaufman, another moderator. “I doubt this will change people’s minds, there are only two people here that vote Republican that we know of, so that is where we stand.”

With much of the room supporting Obama, concerns about his relatively short resume when compared to John McCain or Hillary Clinton raised concern among a few of the folks.

“I don’t feel that Obama has the background required to be president,” resident Mike Cohn said. “He has only served in the Illinois state legislature for five years and he’s spent his term as U.S. Senator campaigning for the presidency.”

Others are excited by the prospect of change that many feel Barack Obama represents.

“What I feel is that significant history is being made with Barack Obama as the first African-American presidential candidate,” Kay Grant stated. “I’ve been very excited about the whole election process this year, with the opportunity to have a Black American or a woman as president.”

Whatever issue interests or concerns them the most, from the war in Iraq, to the privatization of social security, to the millions of Americans without health insurance, most of the pundits are eager to vote the Democratic line.

“I’m trying to understand why Obama is so popular; I want to study him and see his leadership qualities,” Nathan Kornhaber said. “I’ll vote for him, I just don’t want another Republican administration!”

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