Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovitch, in their own words…

The race is on.

Moshe Lion: Ready for the complex challenge. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Moshe Lion: Ready for the complex challenge.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Who will Jerusalemites crown mayor in the November 13 run-off election? The two candidates, both of whom want the job very badly, tell In Jerusalem why the vote should go to them.
Ofer Berkovitch writes:
On November 13, Jerusalem has an important choice to make. This choice will have an impact on the future of the city as a whole and on the ability of individual residents to stay here long-term. I believe that my background, my experience and my accomplishments make me the best choice to lead Jerusalem as it grows over the next five years and beyond.
First and foremost, Jerusalem deserves a leader who truly identifies with its importance as the capital of both the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Navigating the complex issues that face the city requires familiarity with the streets, the cultural and business context and much more, which only someone who was born here and lived his whole life here can truly understand.
My father, a world-renowned expert on the historical and religious significance of Jerusalem and its holy sites, and the local youth movements instilled in me a love for the city and for the Jewish tradition from a young age. I channeled this love into the grassroots Hitorerut movement that I, with others, founded to encourage the younger generation to take a more active role in the capital’s development. In just 10 years, this movement has now been transformed into the largest single block of seats on the city council for the coming term, and is backed by thousands of volunteer activists across Jerusalem.
In my time working as a city councilman, a deputy mayor, holder of many important municipal portfolios and a strategic director for various municipal projects, I have always prioritized initiatives that will improve elements of daily life for all of Jerusalem’s residents. Our movement contains members from all walks of life: national-religious, haredi and secular, men and women, young and old. Each of these groups works to ensure that Jerusalemites from all backgrounds can live together side-by-side in peace, rather than having one population be prioritized at the expense of another. Nowhere does this apply more than in our ongoing struggle to ease absorption for Jerusalem’s oft-overlooked segment of new olim.
Under my leadership, Hitorerut has accumulated a number of achievements unmatched by any other party or candidate. To give a few examples, in the business sphere, we have increased the number of hi-tech startups in the city by renovating business centers and working directly with business owners to eliminate harmful bureaucracy. Our councilman Elad Malka worked directly with the Transportation Ministry to break Egged’s understaffed monopoly in the city, starting with a tender for 50% of Egged’s routes and the addition of shuttle lines for areas that have insufficient volume to warrant a full-size bus. To advance Jerusalem’s cultural presence, I have personally led projects that built the First Station and revitalized the shuk.
All of this and more was accomplished by bridging the political spectrum, with our Likud and Bayit Yehudi members working with others from Yesh Atid and Labor. I’ve shown that it is possible to work for the benefit of Jerusalem’s residents no matter their national political views, and the results speak for themselves.
In this crucial final ballot for Jerusalem’s future, I urge you to vote for a born-and-raised Jerusalemite with no national political strings attached, one who has worked and will continue to work every day to make sure that Jerusalem is a place where everybody can feel comfortable.
Moshe Lion writes:
Three weeks ago, I put the crazy marathon of the Jerusalem mayoral campaign on hold for just a moment. There was a demonstration in Safra Square of parents and their special-education children, communicating their distress and desperation resulting from the significant problems in the transportation system for this population: delays, disorder, failure to meet timetables, supervisors and drivers unqualified to deal with special- needs children. Another struggle – one of the many that take place from time to time in Jerusalem.
I came and listened to them. I saw the desperation in their eyes, but beyond that, the determination to act and fight for the sake of their loved ones. I promised them I would enlist all of my energies to help them, and in the same breath I promised myself that after taking on the position of mayor I would always remember that my true commitment is to the citizens and their needs.
I am often asked what Jerusalem is for me and I always answer, “Jerusalem is a dream, the fulfillment of the Zionist aspiration, the greatest Jewish symbol of all.” But behind those beautiful words, there are about 900,000 residents who need sanitation and welfare services, quality education, quality transportation infrastructure, housing and employment solutions and more. It is time to return Jerusalem to the residents as it was in the days of Teddy Kollek. Compassion and sensitivity are not dirty words, and should be a key part of the mayor’s lexicon in defining priorities and goals.
I now face the mission of my life: the development of Jerusalem and its progress in all categories, while preserving its special character. I bring great excitement to this mission, harnessing the experience over the past 25 years that has trained and qualified me for this complex challenge – from my position as director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office during Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term, through my work as chairman of Israel Railways and the six years I was chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority. Over the past five years, as a city councilman and the holder of the Community Management portfolio, I have studied Jerusalem throughout its length and breadth, learning on my feet about the problems and difficulties in every neighborhood. I tripled the managers’ budget, took care of local cultural events and Independence Day celebrations and strengthened the managers’ independence while boosting resident involvement.
Compassion and sensitivity, management ability, strong connections in government workings in collaboration with the prime minister and high-ranking ministers – all of these exist in me and I believe this is the key to success. This was demonstrated by my involvement in the budget crisis involving the Finance Ministry last year, when I assisted in bringing NIS 850 million to the capital after negotiations with Finance Minister Kahlon. Jerusalem is not a children’s game. Managerial and administrative experience, the ability to make decisions under pressure, personal acquaintance with the government ministries – all of these are vital for the full functionality of the Jerusalem Municipality and its ability to fulfill its principles and priorities.
I believe an active and involved municipality that listens to residents and involves them in the decision- making processes on the important issues is a municipality that will act on its goals and properly carry out the tasks before it. I intend to run a municipality that is open to everyone, is accessible to every resident and responds to every problem. I intend to significantly shorten the bureaucratic processes to remove barriers, and motivate workers to start every day with a smile for the privilege that was given to them to serve the residents of Jerusalem.
There has been a measure of “fake news” spread around town claiming that I represent only a specific sector of Jerusalem residents. I would like to respond that this is far from the truth; it undermines my vision that includes and unifies all city residents. Pluralism cannot be one-directional, saying that only those who support a specific worldview can take part in the democratic game. This is not my way or my belief. I intend to bring together as broad a coalition as possible to serve every resident and every sector according to its needs, beliefs and wishes. True and courageous leadership knows how to accomplish this modestly, honestly and sensitively.
Translated by Tamar Beeri.