Jerusalem mayoral candidate: City is too dirty

Lion complains about filth and blames incumbent Mayor Barkat; says will improve education, transportation, housing.

Mayoral candidate Moshe Lion 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Mayoral candidate Moshe Lion 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Former Prime Minister’s Office director-general Moshe Lion complained about the filth in the city he would like to head and blamed it on incumbent Nir Barkat, at a meeting with Jerusalem Post writers and editors at the newspaper’s headquarters on Monday.
Lion, who lived in Givatayim until he moved to the city to run for mayor, said he was surprised by the amount of cats around Jerusalem’s garbage bins. He said not being from Jerusalem gave him the advantage of knowing the city could be cleaner.
“You can’t throw garbage away here without being attacked by a cat,” he complained.
Cleanliness was one of four issues Lion said he would improve, along with education, transportation, and housing. He said he could use his ties with top officials in various ministries to bring national funding to Jerusalem to deal with the issues.
“I have experience in dealing with government that can help the city,” Lion said.
“You need to be able to speak the language of the government and persuade relevant officials.”
Asked why his former boss, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has not endorsed a candidate in the race, he asked for patience.
“I have just gotten started,” he said.
On education, Lion promised to raise matriculation test scores of students, hire teachers who are employed by outside contractors, lower school fees and build 500 classrooms for pupils all over the city, including Arab neighborhoods.
To improve the city’s transportation, Lion said he would have more buses operate so elderly people would not have to take a bus, the light rail, and another bus to get places.
Lion vowed to build more affordable small apartments for young families in order to keep them in the city. He said the high cost of homes in Jerusalem was a result of the law of supply and demand, not a result of a moratorium on construction over the pre-1967 border due to diplomatic talks with the Palestinians.
The mayoral candidate made a point of speaking only in Hebrew to the Post staff. His advisers said he spoke English well enough but they did not want him to make a mistake.
As head of the Jerusalem Development Authority over the past five years, Lion earmarked government funds for projects in Jerusalem. He took credit for new parks, tourist sites, and industry that began during Barkat’s tenure as mayor.
“I worked well together with Barkat,” Lion said. “But I saw that there is not enough investment in the residents of the city, while too much was spent on attempts to impress the world and people from Tel Aviv. We need to get more from the city for what we pay in property taxes. My vision is to influence and improve quality of life in the city. It should be as good or better than any other city in the country.”