Despite all of the coverage devoted to the candidacies of Moshe Abutbol and Eli
Cohen for mayor of Beit Shemesh, there is another candidate in the city who has
received somewhat less press.
Joshua Wander, a 43-year-old father of six
from the Ramat Beit Shemesh section of town, is running for mayor of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, on the Republican ticket.
Although he recently moved to
Israel with his family, Wander, who works as an independent security consultant,
said he would be willing to terminate his current contract, which brought him to
this country, if he wins the November 5 election.
“I sort of fell into
the position of being nominated,” Wander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday,
explaining that because other potential Republican candidates dropped out at the
last minute, he was essentially chosen by default.
According to local
news station WPXI, Wander’s absence from a candidate’s forum on Monday led Bill
Peduto, the Democrat running for the office, to quip: “I don’t think we’re going
to be having any debates, but that’s OK.”
Wander has stated that he
intends to return for debates, and the local Republican chairman told the
Pittsburgh Post Gazette that the “peripatetic candidate,” as the paper has
dubbed Wander, “hasn’t been gone that long” and that “he’ll be
Even if the American-Israeli were going door to door to woo voters
himself he would still be facing a steep uphill battle, the paper noted, adding
that his absence makes the odds for his defeat even higher.
has not elected a Republican mayor since 1934. Wander says he is running to give
residents an alternative.
“It’s not a matter of if I win or lose,” he
told the Post. “I already won the election by virtue of the fact that I am
giving the electorate the other option that they wouldn’t have
He added that despite having sold his house prior to coming
to Israel, he was here only for work and has maintained a residence in
Pittsburgh in case he is elected.
“I did sell my house there.
was a question of the market being very profitable at the time. It was a good
time to sell. It had nothing to do with our subsequent move,” Wander
He couldn’t be “too explicit” about his work here, he said, but
was willing to say that “it is understood that as soon as I win as mayor of the
city of Pittsburgh I will cancel my contract” and go back.
“I have a
family with six children and I have to support them, and especially considering
the history of the Republican party [in Pittsburgh], I can’t quit my day job and
decide I’m just going to run full time,” he added.
Wander originally came
to Israel as a student in 1987, and subsequently served in the IDF and got
married before returning to the US to further his education at a local
university. During his time in Israel, he says he became an activist with the
anti-Oslo Accords Zo Artzeinu movement, worked as an advisor to the Moledet
Knesset faction and even spent time as an editor at JPost.com.
had some media exposure in the States.
Last year he was featured on the
television reality show Doomsday Preppers due to his leadership in a group
called Jewish Preppers, which teaches Jews how to prepare themselves because, as
the National Geographic Channel put it, he “fears that a terrorist attack in the
United States is imminent.”