Yesh Atid MK Orna Barbivay launched on Wednesday her campaign to become mayor of Tel Aviv ahead of the nationwide municipal elections set to be held in October.
Barbivay was flanked by her faction leader, opposition head MK Yair Lapid, as she announced her candidacy to unseat Ron Huldai, who had been serving as mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998.
"Today I am embarking on a journey," Barbivay said at an event hosted at Tel Aviv's Gag Ha-ir [The City's Roof]. "I love the people who make this city what it is.
הערב הכרזתי על מועמדותי לראשות העיר תל אביב- יפו. הגיע הזמן לעיר מסודרת יותר, שמחה יותר, פתוחה יותר ובטוחה יותר לתושביה.— Orna Barbivay אורנה ברביבאי (@OrnaBarbivay) June 21, 2023
"[Tel Aviv] is a city that accepts everyone, at any time...a role model for liberalism and acceptance of others, which is not to be taken for granted these days," Barbivay continued. "Tel Aviv is a vibrant and flourishing city...it is time for the residents of the city to reap the fruits of their labor that should make everyone's lives easier, for those who live in Tel Aviv's north, south and center."
The former economy minister is set to resign from the Knesset during the Israeli parliament's summer recess, as per Lapid's request, as she seeks to focus on her municipal ambitions.
It's time to replace Ron Huldai, Yesh Atid's Barbivay says
At the event, Barbivay noted that her rival, Mayor Ron Huldai, is a "good mayor who I once voted for. He has given a lot for this city, but after 25 years, I believe that he will show responsibility and drop out of the race."
Lapid added that, while he "likes and respects" Huldai, "no man can do the same job for 25 years at the same level of quality."
Barbivay addressed the rising cost of living in the city, stressing that it is "unfathomable" that Israel's priciest city is not worth its value to its residents.
"The cost of living, along with difficulties with transport and the chaos on the streets, is hurting small businesses, making residents' lives insufferable," Barbivay noted.
Tel Aviv mayoral race heats up ahead of October
Former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv Zippy Brand, who is also running to replace Huldai, launched an indirect attack on both Holdai and her new rival earlier this week.
יותר ויותר מבינים בתל אביב יפו: רק מועמדת שחיה ונושמת את העיר ויודעת להביא פתרונות יצירתיים מהשטח יכולה להיות האלטרנטיבה לשלטון חולדאי.לא עוד א.נשי צבא שיוצנחו עלינו מלמעלה. לא עוד פוליטיקאים שבאים לעשות סיבוב.חייבים להתקדם להנהגה אותנטית. זה הדור הבא. pic.twitter.com/mHAqTAoUFq— ציפי ברנד (@BrandZippi) June 19, 2023
Brand wrote on Twitter that "only a candidate who lives and breathes the city can be a true alternative to Huldai, no more former IDF generals or politicians that want to make a name for themselves," she wrote on Twitter, referencing Barbivay's military past as the head of the IDF's Manpower Directorate.