38 municipalities vote in mayoral runoff elections

Round 2 voter turnout was 50.9%; Meretz MK submits bill to limit mayors to two terms.

By HENRY ROME,
November 5, 2013 23:56
2 minute read.
Israeli Arab women voting 370

Israeli Arab women voting 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Residents in 38 municipalities – from the tiny town of Migdal, near Tiberias, to Petah Tikva – voted on Tuesday in second-round elections for mayor. No final results were released by press time.

The final rate of voter turnout at the end of the day was recorded as 50.9%.

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More than halfway through the voting window, the average turnout was 27 percent – out of nearly 640,000 eligible voters, only 175,300 had cast their ballots.

The average does mask higher turnout in several communities – in 14 towns, turnout was more than 50%, and Caubiya-Tabash-Hajajra recorded the highest turnout rate at 63% at midday.

Petah Tikva, a municipality with more than 176,000 registered voters, recorded the highest number of voters: more than 35,000.

Tel Aviv police said that at 7:45 p.m. they received a report about an incident at a Yehud voting station, where a 46-year-old Bnei Brak man allegedly grabbed the voting slips from inside a voting booth and tried to flee on foot. The man was arrested by police at the scene and is currently being questioned about the incident, they added.

As of 8:00 p.m. police dealt with some 60 complaints dealing with the elections, but nothing out of the ordinary.



There were a few physical confrontations and suspected forgeries with four people arrested and eight detained.

In Petah Tikva, the campaign of Yitzak Braverman posted photos on Facebook that it said showed Rami Greenberg, a supporter of Mayor Uri Ohad and a former mayoral candidate, in the back of a police car for allegedly interfering with voting. When reached by phone, Braverman referred questions to the police, which did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Ohad confirmed that Greenberg had been taken into custody but was soon released.

“This is a cheap provocation by the Braverman camp,” the spokesman said.

In Mevasseret Zion, west of the capital, the calm atmosphere at the major voting place, a local high school, belied the increasingly vitriolic campaign between Boaz Cohen and Yoram Shimon.

A member of Cohen’s list, who was manning the campaign booth in the parking lot of the school, was not particularly optimistic about turnout.

“Usually in the second round, people are not showing up, coming out to vote,” said Roni Givoni, emphasizing that Tuesday was not a work holiday.

Also yesterday, MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) submitted a bill that would not allow mayors to serve more than two consecutive terms.

“The map of corruption in local authorities is spreading and even the Knesset Interior Committee led by MK Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) cannot legitimize it,” Gilon, former deputy mayor of Ashkelon, said, referring to Regev calling a meeting last week to berate a whistleblower who reported her political ally, Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso, for corruption.

According to Gilon, “the term of office is a central component in corruption by mayors who control municipalities and a lot of money.”

As such, limiting terms will allow long-term supervision and regulation that will bring back the public’s faith in local government, the Meretz MK explained.

“Some people are confused and think mayor is a life-long position. Term limits will bring new energy to the system,” Gilon stated.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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