Ten identical questions for mayoral candidates

Meir Turgeman is running ‘because Jerusalem is part of my DNA.’

Meir Turgeman (photo credit: MEIR TURGEMAN)
Meir Turgeman
(photo credit: MEIR TURGEMAN)
Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman is set to announce his candidacy officially on Tuesday. In Jerusalem is the first newspaper Turgeman has granted an interview to – even before his scheduled press conference. Turgeman has agreed to answer the 10 identical questions we are asking all candidates and to share his vision for the city.
1. Who are you?
I was born and raised in Jerusalem and have lived here all my life. I am married, a father of four and grandfather of nine. For me, Jerusalem is the most important place in the world and I am ready to serve this city and its residents.
2. Why are you running?
Because Jerusalem is part of my DNA, because I am totally dedicated to this city. I have been involved in the politics of this city for more than 30 years at all of the levels, from the lowest position to what I do now, as deputy mayor. I can bring all of this experience and knowledge to the position.
3. Who are your voters?
The ordinary men and women of the city, these are the people I address – those who have had an attentive ear all these years and discovered a genuine will to help them. I represent the mosaic of the city’s residents – I can talk and communicate with all sectors. This is the same Jerusalem that I have in my own family and home – a leftist daughter, a haredi daughter, a right-wing son and another son identified with the Labor Party. They all live in peace and mutual respect within my own family and this is the way I see all of Jerusalem’s residents.
4. What will be the focus of your ticket for this campaign?
I will focus on three issues. Regarding education – and this is the first time I am revealing this plan – I will create a special multi-million-shekel fund for the city’s pupils, from kindergarten to higher education, based on public funds and philanthropic donations – in order to ensure that no child in this city is prevented from accomplishing his or her dreams in education and beyond. I will also put emphasis on cleanliness and increase support for young couples to put an end to the migration out of Jerusalem of this sector.
5. How will you solve the following problems: Cleaning, affordable housing, emigration of young generation?
I will create a real revolution in these fields, but I do not want to unveil program details yet. I will promote a wide range of projects to expand the availability of affordable rental housing for young couples, and other things that will help keep the young generation in Jerusalem.
6. What do you plan to do to alleviate tension between haredi and pluralist sectors?
I already deal with this. I believe that most of the haredim in the city do not identify with the extremism of their representatives at city council. I meet on a regular basis with haredim. They all want to live in peace with their neighbors, with pluralist residents. The haredi residents do not want to impose anything on the non-haredim. I recently went with non-haredim on a visit with Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. He spoke about the importance of Shabbat. They listened to him respectfully. Some took his words to heart, others, with all due respect, didn’t, but everything was said with mutual respect and in a civilized way. I will never surrender to those in the haredi sector who try to impose their views on us. This will be my path when I become mayor.
7. What are your plans regarding the Arab sector?
I am sorry for them, really. I have succeeded in making a significant change at least in one matter – construction. As chairman of the local planning and constructing committee, I have launched a vast program of legalizing some of the construction, and today about half of the private construction projects submitted and approved by the committee are from Arab residents. It is not happening in all the Arab neighborhoods, but everywhere where they have understood and agreed to play by the rules – planning, permits, supervision and all the necessary stages, it works.
8. Who is financing your campaign?
My campaign is being financed only through legal donations. I do not have the personal wealth to finance a campaign and I will use only donations – everything according to the law. A donation of NIS 50 will be as important in my eyes as a larger sum. Not only the rich can be mayor.
9. What is your relevant experience?
Through my many years of involvement and commitment at all levels, I have gained extensive experience that the residents can benefit from. I have the capacity and the experience to advance so many matters in this city and bridge so many different sectors. I am a simple man; I am not wealthy, but I am from here.
10. What is the most important quality one needs to be mayor of Jerusalem?
The capacity to listen to all residents. In this city with such a diverse population, you must know how to listen carefully to everyone and provide optimal responses in each case. This is what I know how to do.
Will you run for mayor if Nir Barkat decides to run again? And if he does, will you join his list or just withdraw from the campaign?
Allow me not to answer this question.