J’lem community council elections set for December 13

Elections seen as a way to increase communication between Jerusalem residents, municipality and assist with local planning issues.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
October 24, 2011 04:36
2 minute read.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Nir Barkat 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The second round of community council elections in Jerusalem will be held on December 13, the municipality announced on Sunday.

The elections are seen as a way to increase communication between Jerusalem residents and the municipality and assist with local planning issues.

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The announcement of the elections, the second year in a row community elections have taken place, came just days after Mayor Nir Barkat stripped city councilwoman Rachel Azaria (Yerushalmim) of the portfolio of community councils.

She was also fired from the coalition for her role in petitioning the High Court of Justice to immediately remove gender barriers in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods that were erected during Succot. The municipality said coalition members cannot file petitions against the city.

Barkat adopted Azaria’s portfolios after she was stripped of her position. Azaria told The Jerusalem Post last week she “will continue to work for the things for which I was elected,” and blasted Barkat for giving into “haredi [ultra-Orthodox] extremism.”

The December elections will be held in five neighborhoods: Gilo, Greater Baka (including Arnona and Talpiot), Beit Hanina, the Bucharim Quarter, and a new community council called South Jerusalem which includes Katamon, Pat, Rasco, Givat Havradim, and Givat Oranim. Nine residents from each neighborhood will be elected to meet on a monthly basis with municipality officials as part of a community council made up of 15 people.

The remaining six people will be appointed by the city.



The city hopes to expand the idea of community councils to the entire city over the coming years. Each year, the program will include five neighborhoods, including one Arab neighborhood and one ultra- Orthodox neighborhood.

Last year, the five neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev, Shmuel Hanavi, Beit Safafa, Har Homa/Homat Shmuel, and the City Gardens (Rehavia, the German Colony and Katamon) participated in a pilot program to elect community representatives.

The average turnout for the neighborhoods was approximately 21 percent, a figure that Yossi Sharavi, the director of the culture, society and leisure for the municipality, called “satisfactory.”

“The elections get people that care into the circle of action in the municipality,” Sharavi said.

“We get new blood into the system… and elections are the best way to get residents involved in democracy.”

A decision regarding whether the neighborhood of Ramot will have one community council, as haredi members want, or two separate community councils for haredi residents and national religious/secular residents, as non-haredi residents are demanding, will be made at the city council meeting on Thursday.


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