(photo credit: Marc israel Sellem)
Four years ago, after spending five years as head of the opposition while Uri Lupolianski was mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat was elected to lead the city. Today, after four years on the job, he is the only declared candidate for next year’s election.During those four years, there have been many significant changes at Safra Square, and the impact has been felt by the city and its residents. In addition to what some call the mayor’s “hi-tech” administrative style, there is no doubt that Barkat has made good on many of his pre-election commitments. The city’s cultural life has undergone a dramatic change – to the extent that it is no easy task to list the festivals and events that take place here. Barkat’s achievements regarding making the city more attractive to students and young families are remarkable, but he is far from reaching the goals he set himself. Affordable housing for youth is still a distant dream, and the municipality’s initiative to double property tax for unoccupied houses as an incentive for owners to offer them for rent was not adopted by the Interior Ministry.