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 back.”

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.

Pittsburgh 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 otherwise.”

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.

That 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 stated.

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.

Wander has 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.”

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