MK Rachel Azaria joins crowded Jerusalem mayoral field

If elected, she will be capital’s first female mayor.

Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria
Kulanu MK and former deputy Jerusalem mayor Rachel Azaria announced that she would run in the October 30 election for mayor, becoming the first woman to ever seek the post.
On Sunday, Azaria joined a crowded field that includes Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, city councilmen Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovich, former city officials Yossi Havilio and Avi Salman, and possibly Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai and former Jerusalem deputy mayor Kobi Kachlon.
“My deep desire to work for the good of Jerusalem, where my heart is, brought me to decide to return home and run for mayor,” Azaria said. “I worked for the city in the Knesset. I am coming back with helpful experience.”
Azaria revealed that she made her decision after an in-depth study of her chances was conducted on her behalf. The study found that the race was wide open, that the public was not satisfied with the current candidates, and that a woman could get elected in Jerusalem.
She said, that if elected, the three key issues she would focus on as mayor were employment, housing, and education. Azaria also said she hoped to receive the support of the Yerushalmim party she headed until she left for the Knesset in 2015, but a vote would need to be taken in the party.
Azaria immediately came under attack from the rival Hitorerut party, which is running its leader, Berkovich for mayor. Hitorerut said that her candidacy would ensure the election of a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) mayor or someone beholden to the haredim.
“Azaria abandoned the city council mid-term for a job in the Knesset, and now she is abandoning the Knesset to seek a job in Jerusalem, because she knows she will be thrown off the Kulanu list for the next Knesset,” a spokesman for Berkovich said.
“She is not running out of love for Jerusalem, but out of love for herself and her desire to have a job. She can’t unite Jerusalem behind her. She can’t even unite Baka [the neighborhood in which Yerushalmim has its greatest support].”
Azaria responded that her opponents’ attacks were political spin. She said she expected her rival candidates to drop out of the race at the end and support her.
“Other candidates are attacking me because I am strong,” she said. “Others can run their negative spin campaigns. The people of Jerusalem don’t want dirt. They want someone who will work on their behalf.”
Peggy Cidor contributed to this report.