Veteran Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai is likely to win reelection on Tuesday, though he faces strong competition from popular Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz.
How close the election will be depends on who you ask – a poll released by Meretz last week had 45 percent of voters saying they would pick Huldai and 38% saying Horowitz, with 5% supporting Aharon Maduel. Huldai’s people, on the other hand, released a poll this month saying that their candidate would get 46% of the vote as opposed to 27% for Horowitz.
Huldai’s campaign appears to be based on promising more of the same. His supporters say that Tel Aviv was largely neglected before Huldai’s mayoralty, and that the former Air Force commander is responsible for its development into a thriving, internationallyrenowned city.
Huldai, a 69-year-old native of Kibbutz Hulda, has run under the slogan “Ron Huldai – a good head (rosh tov),” with banners showing a cartoon image of the mayor on a bicycle from municipality rent-abike program Tel-O-Fun, which launched under his stewardship of the city.
Huldai will face a strong competitor in Horowitz, a popular MK looking to become the first openly gay mayor in the Middle East. The 48-year-old former Channel 10 correspondent, now in his second Knesset term, has presented his campaign as a remedy for those tired of Huldai.
Horowitz has promised to work on issues such as overcrowding in schools, the public transport system and parking and an end to the neglect of south Tel Aviv.
At a distant third in all polls is city councilman Aharon Maduel from the City of All party. The party won 38% of the 2009 election with MK Dov Khenin at the helm, but multiple polls expect it to get a single-digit percentage of the vote this time around.
Maduel, 52 and a father of four, is the head of the Kfar Shalem neighborhood council and headed protests by residents there. His party says they will improve the safety of residents of south Tel Aviv, ensure that the municipality takes a direct role in regulating rent prices and create more public housing. They also promise to cancel all eviction and demolition plans in south Tel Aviv and Jaffa, invest more in education, encourage public transport through rapid bus transport and work to lessen social inequality, among other issues.
Over a dozen party lists are in the running. These include Huldai’s Tel Aviv One, Meretz, City for All, Rov Ha’ir – a list headed by Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir, targeting young voters – Likud, Power to the Pensioners, The Green List (Hayerokim), Safe Tel Aviv, Yafa, the South Tel Aviv faction, Social Justice, and the Green Movement, among others.
Separately, the suburb of Ramat Gan – home to the Israel Diamond Exchange, the Safari, and over 145,000 residents – will elect its first new mayor in 24 years on Tuesday, after local institution Tzvi Bar was indicted last year on bribery and money laundering charges.
Among those vying for the position is former Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, a one-time Ramat Gan city councilman who was among the first complainants against Bar. Meanwhile, it is hard to miss the local billboards for candidate Israel Zinger. Head of the opposition to Bar since 2003, the 64-year-old former principal at Blich high school has been an adviser on education issues for the Knesset for two decades, and is also on the board of a charity that helps Holocaust survivors.
Also vying for the mayoral seat are Ramat Gan city councilman and former Likud MK Attorney David Mena, Dr. Avi Lilian, a city councilman and head of the city’s green board, Attorney Zvi Nir, a city councilman and head of the city’s cultural department, city council head Ariel Nudelman, longtime councilman Eli Museri and attorney and city council member Rami Gani.
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