Long after the other candidates threw their hats into the ring, Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch, 50, finally officially launched his campaign, under the slogan “Yossi Daitch, a Jerusalemite with a soul” (sounds better in Hebrew) at the Ramada Hotel, in the midst of Hol Hamoed Sukkot. After a presentation of the campaign and its slogans, Daitch entered and gave a speech rooted in his vision that a hard-working mayor focused on building and sanitation is the best answer for the city. He emphasized the urgent need to build new neighborhoods in the city for all population sectors, underlining that the lack of affordable housing is a main reason for the exodus of the young and young families. After expressing his wishes for the success of the prime minister at the annual convention of the United Nations, Daitch pointed out that his first mission would be to put an end to the freezing of construction in the city, which is, according to him, decided at the highest levels of government.“Once I am the mayor, with God’s help, I will immediately knock on all the doors at the government, the prime minister, the Treasury, the housing minister, and bring an end to the construction freeze that Jerusalem has suffered from for the past 20 years or so.” Asked how he would manage to reach this goal while he is not, according to his words, a representative of a party in the government, he answered, “When they [the ministers] see how ready I am to work hard – to clean, to promote and to build – they will certainly answer my requests positively.”Despite the dramas inside his own party, United Torah Judaism, just a few days ago, Daitch expressed confidence that his chances are high to become the next mayor. Regarding haredi-secular issues, such as the Gay Pride parade and opening entertainment places on Shabbat, his answer was clear. “Whatever has been ruled on by the Court is out of my power. As for the rest, I will respect the status quo, which has been repeatedly eroded over the years.”He insisted that he is not running as the representative of the haredi sector only, but as the best candidate possible, “someone who was born here and not a newcomer” – hinting at Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental Protection Minister MK Ze’ev Elkin and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion – and therefore “a candidate for whom haredim, religious and secular can and will vote.” Daitch rejected the possibility that his appearance, with a long black coat and beard, would be an obstacle, and disregarded stereotypes that could influence residents not to vote for him. “True Jerusalemites will see beyond my outfit and my beard. That’s the true Jerusalem voice.”According to the most recent poll conducted by Mina Tzemah in late August, Daitch is competitively positioned with a respectable 23% of the votes. MEANWHILE, AZIZ Abu Sarah has announced his decision to withdraw his mayoral candidacy this past Tuesday.He said that due to the possibility that he could lose his residency rights in the city, and as a result of significant pressure from the Palestinian residents that he wished to represent, he is not running for mayor. Abu Sarah is a resident, but does not have Israeli citizenship and therefore cannot run for mayor, as determined recently by the Supreme Court.For now, it is unclear if the list he formed will run for council seats.