On the day of the Jerusalem runoff mayoral election, Ofer Berkovitch – the fresh-faced, well-coifed mayoral candidate – spent the day visiting key spots throughout Jerusalem in a last ditch effort to encourage as many residents as he could to head to the polls and cast their votes for him. Jerusalem residents are returning to the polls for the second time since the general municipal elections on October 31, which forced them to now have to choose between leading candidates Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Lion. The charismatic and easily approachable 36-year-old Jerusalem native spent the hours before the polls officially opened at the Hadar Mall in Talpiot chatting with shoppers while surrounded by volunteers dressed in bright yellow t-shirts, the color of his Hitorerut (Awakening) Party. He even rode on a treadmill at the mall’s health club alongside another runner, apparently convincing him to vote for him. Berkovitch’s schedule of visiting key locations throughout the city is a clear indication of a strategy to counterbalance the overflow of potential haredi voters promising to vote for his opponent, Moshe Lion. Berkovitch’s itinerary included: Visiting Malha Mall in the northern part of the city, followed by going door-to-door in Pisgat Ze’ev and Gilo, calling on residents to head out to the polls and vote for him before they close at 10:00 p.m.
When polls opened throughout the city at 1:00 p.m. – six hours after they did in the capital for the first round – Berkovitch and his entourage arrived at the Doogma Elementary School in the eclectic neighborhood of Nahlaot, where he and his wife, Dina, cast their votes. The all-boys religious elementary school was swarming with press and about a dozen yellow t-shirt-wearing twenty-something secular volunteers standing outside the school with drums, loud speakers and pamphlets. “Jerusalem’s future is on the table,” Berkovitch told reporters on Tuesday after casting his vote. “This is a meaningful election for the future of Jerusalem. It not only sets the course for our city but this will also set the future course for Israel,” Berkovitch appealed to the public in his ten minute address to the press. “We are here together – haredim, secular, religious. We should be able to live together and work together on behalf of Jerusalem.” Berkovitch added. Berkovitch’s wife, Dina, told The Jerusalem Post that there are over 1,500 volunteers for Berkovitch scattered throughout the city encouraging Jerusalemites to vote for him. Another Ofer, one of the volunteers standing in front of the Doogma School, shared his confidence in Berkovitch’s chances of becoming Jerusalem’s next mayor. “The only challenge we really have is that the voting hours are much shorter than before and that people were not given the day off to vote, but I do think more people will vote today than they did two weeks ago,” He told the Post. “The people of Jerusalem have spoken and they want Berkovitch. Hitorerut earned seven seats on the city council [and] Moshe Lion has zero – this should be enough to show what Jerusalem wants.” Shortly after Berkovitch left the polling station, a group of Moshe Lion supporters showed up carrying posters with Lion’s picture and flyers promoting Lion. They covered the remaining periphery of the school with them, while a man wearing a Moshe Lion t-shirt shouted ‘Only Moshe Lion!”
Jerusalem mayoral elections: Berkovitch signs vandalized, November 13, 2018 (Hitorerut)