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Six Vie for Senate Credit Union Board

Members of the Senate Federal Credit Union will cast votes this month to fill two seats on the board of directors.

Six candidates, including one incumbent and one ex-board member, are vying for spots on the seven-member board, which plays an active role in the decisions that affect the $289 million credit union’s 30,800 members.

Ballots, sent to credit union members in late March, are due back by midnight April 18.

Board member Judy Rainey, an aide to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), said voters must mark only two candidates to avoid having their ballots invalidated.

“It’s important for people to remember there’s six really good candidates but they can only vote for two,” said Rainey, who was elected in 2002.

This year’s candidates include Timothy Anderson, a former credit union manager; Ngozi Pole, an aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.); Marvin Simpson, an incumbent board member and an Architect of the Capitol employee; Lula Tyler, a retired federal worker; Sue Lloyd Wright, a Senate Rules and Administration Committee staffer; and Anthony Zagami, a former board chairman and general counsel in the Government Printing Office.

Board member Chris Shunk, a Senate Rules staffer, is not seeking re-election.

To qualify for election, nominees must be a member of the credit union, at least 18 years old, and have no prior convictions for any crimes “involving dishonesty or breach of trust,” according to the Federal Credit Union Act.

In addition, candidates must have financial or legal experience, or at least two years of service on a credit union committee. Credit union employees are eligible for election one year after terminating employment.

“I’m very pleased that six very good candidates all came forward,” said Rainey, who noted the broad range of backgrounds represented by the Senate and non-Senate employees, as well as former credit union employees taking part in the race. “I think it’s a wide span of experience and what people can bring to [the credit union]. And I’m very excited about it.”

The board lost five members — whose collective experience on the board numbered in the decades — in 2002 in a recall effort.

The action stemmed from uproar over the board’s decision to expand to 13 seats, in an attempt to retain two incumbents who had been defeated in the annual election.

Following the recall and the resignation of another board member, the board retracted itself to seven members.

In September, the six-member board voted unanimously to appoint Simpson to the remaining seat. It also relaxed the requirements for potential candidates in the 2003 elections.

“The transition … has been very smooth and very productive and we’re excited to continue the progress we’re making,” Rainey said.

Simpson, the lone incumbent candidate, is relying in part on his long-standing reputation in the Senate for his re-election bid.

The assistant Senate superintendent has worked in the Architect’s office for more than 35 years.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings,” Simpson said.

As the newest member of the board, Simpson acknowledged that he is still getting the hang of things. “I’ve been on this such a short time that I’m still learning: slow to speak, quick to listen,” he said.

Ex-board member Zagami, one of the defeated incumbents who benefited from the board’s expansion but later stepped down, said of his bid: “I thought that I would bring some experience back to the board.

“I resigned last year because it was just getting too messy and I just didn’t want to go through all the fights,” said Zagami, who described much of the uproar as “a personality conflict” among board members.

Zagami said he would push to expand the board to nine members if elected.

“Last year the board was criticized to expanding to 13 because they were trying to keep their own on the board,” Zagami said. “This year they kept it at seven, and to me that’s the same sort of argument. You’re not trying to let people come on, you’re trying to keep it among yourselves.”

Zagami has served three full terms and a partial term on the board, and has been a member of the D.C. Credit Union League from 1998 to 2000.

Pole, who is seeking his first term on the board, explained his decision to run: “I view the concept of the credit union, that ideally it should be something that’s very different form a neighborhood bank.”

Pole said he would like to focus on expanding services to employees in posts that have high turnover rates, such as staff assistants.

“It’s a market that the credit union does not do a good job of capturing,” Pole said.

He later added, “For a 21-year-old who’s just starting their first job, my view is the credit union should offer services for those folks that make them want to be a life-long member, that help them get over that hurdle perhaps of a declined car loan, that helps them build a good credit rating to get ready for their first home or condo loan.”

Pole, a five-year veteran of Kennedy’s office, said he would also like to focus on technology issues including Internet banking, and credit-building products such as secured credit cards.

“I think we can do a better job in all those ways,” Pole said.

Wright, the Rules panel’s coordinator for technology and administration, has previously served as administration director to Democratic Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.), and the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (N.Y.).

She is also a member of the Senate Joint Office Managers Steering Committee and the Systems Administrators Committee. Wright did not return calls for comment.

Tyler, a retired federal employee, has served for more than 20 years as a volunteer financial officer at various churches.

Anderson, who has served in the credit union’s management team, is currently a member of its bylaws committee. His 23-year financial services career includes time as vice president of operations at Equitable Bank. Currently, Anderson serves on the board of the Transportation Federal Credit Union.

Tyler and Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The election results will be announced at the credit union’s annual meeting, which will be from 6 to 8 p.m. April 23 in Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

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