yossi sarid 298.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid retired from politics a year and a half ago, and has since been resisting efforts to lure him back into the political fray.
But the office of Tel Aviv mayor may be too difficult for him to resist, Sarid said Thursday.
The Tel Aviv mayoral race is set for November 11, 2008, the same day that local authorities across the country will hold elections.
Opponents of incumbent Ron Hulda'i have been searching for a big name to run against him. Names that have come up include Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman and MKs Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), Avishai Braverman (Labor) and Ronit Tirosh (Kadima).
But the 66-year old Sarid might be the strongest possible challenger to Hulda'i in a city full of secular left-wing voters who agree with his politics.
Sarid told The Jerusalem Post that many of the people who have been pushing him to run for mayor have ironically been religious and right-wing residents of the city.
"Politics don't matter in Tel Aviv," Sarid said. "Tel Aviv has problems with education, culture and good governance. People want me to run, because I have been identified with those issues for many years."
Sarid said he would not decide whether to run until January, when the race is on the horizon. He said that meanwhile, he has been enjoying his retirement.
"The job would be interesting, but then again, everything in my life is interesting now, so I am not looking to add interesting things to my life," Sarid said. "I am not complaining of boredom. I have many reasons to say no, and I am still looking for reasons to say yes - but I am considering it."
Sarid said he left politics at his own volition and does not regret his decision. But he said he knew Tel Aviv very well, including all its problems and how to solve them.
"If there was a candidate just like me for Tel Aviv mayor who wasn't me, I'd support him," Sarid said.
Sarid's Meretz colleague, Deputy Tel Aviv Mayor Yael Dayan, said she hoped Sarid would decide to run, but she wasn't holding out hope.
"Yossi is a fitting candidate to be mayor and even prime minister," Dayan said. "We in Meretz wanted him to run last time. He said no last time, and this time it's just rumors."
A Shas source said that for Sarid to get elected and form a coalition in Tel Aviv, he would need to get the support of the city's rabbis, which is unlikely to happen.