(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz officially threw in his hat for the next mayoral race in Tel Aviv, announcing at a press conference in Neveh Tzedek on Monday that he will run for the seat against 15-year incumbent Ron Huldai when the city goes to the ballot boxes in October.
Making his official announcement, Horowitz spoke of his city as a wealthy and unique metropolis facing a daunting series of problems related to housing and inequalities in wealth and infrastructure. He also addressed the ongoing tension between residents of south Tel Aviv and the more than 50,000 African migrants who have made the southern neighborhoods of the city their home in recent years, saying “this is a powder keg.
You don’t have to be an expert to know that the situation can not go on like this.”
Horowitz repeated a suggestion he has made in the past: that the government should allow the African migrants to work legally, and give them such work visas in place of the foreign workers who the country continues to bring in to work in agriculture, construction, caretaking and elsewhere.
“It’s absurd that in south Tel Aviv there is the current situation and meanwhile, the state continues to bring in more and more foreign workers with visas. I recommend that we put them to work in place of the foreign workers who [the state] keeps bringing.”
Being Tel Aviv, no discussion would be complete without griping about the traffic and the shortage of parking spots. Horowitz said that the situation in the city “doesn’t have to be like this. There is enough know-how out there in order to build different public transportation, and I am saying clearly to the residents of the city: we must give adequate parking and good public transportation public to free ourselves from this nightmare.”
Horowitz also spoke of the rising rental and living costs in the city, which has spurred an exodus of sorts of many former residents in recent years.
“Tel Aviv cannot be a city that only the rich can live in,” he said, asking: “How can a young person or an older person continue to live in his city? How come young persons can’t find an affordable apartment and older people can’t find rent controlled housing, and at the same time giant towers are going up all the time and remain empty? I will push forward attainable housing for young people and rent-controlled housing for older residents.”
His comments on housing came minutes after he opened his remarks with a swipe at what he said are the priorities of Huldai, saying “the money that was spent renovating the municipality building could have been used to build 100 new daycare centers. There’s no reason for there to be such crowded schools and kindergartens in Tel Aviv.”
Towards the end of the press conference, held in front of a small group of supporters in the Nahum Guttman Museum in Neveh Tzedek, Horowitz artfully dodged a question about whether he would return to the Knesset if he loses the mayoral race, saying only that he entered the race to win.
The press conference came the day after the Meretz party unanimously approved Horowitz’s candidacy for mayor on Sunday.
A poll commissioned by Meretz in March and leaked this week stated that if Horowitz ran for mayor at the time, he would get 33 percent of the vote while Huldai would get half.
Last week, Hadash MK Dov Henin, who received 34.2% of the vote in the 2008 mayoral race, announced that he would not run for mayor in the current race.