Jerusalem city attorney challenges incumbent mayor Barkat ahead of vote

Challenger slams boss, says city can't have "part time mayor."

Avi Salman (photo credit: ITZIK HALPERIN)
Avi Salman
(photo credit: ITZIK HALPERIN)
Former Jerusalem city attorney Avi Salman this week announced his candidacy for mayor and attacked his erstwhile boss, incumbent Mayor Nir Barkat.
Barkat has been building himself up politically in the Likud ahead of a possible jump into national politics. He has said he will announce his political future by the end of the year, but Salman told The Jerusalem Post in an interview from his vacation in Thailand that he will run regardless of Barkat’s plans.
“I am running because I love Jerusalem, it’s a part of me, and I can no longer bear to watch from the sidelines what is going on in the city,” Salman told the Post. “I wish Barkat good luck in national politics, but we can’t have a mayor who works part time. Jerusalem should not be the backup plan of anyone. The residents will choose me, because I care.”
Salman is a veteran Jerusalem city employee who has a held a number of posts, including director of business development and political adviser to Barkat. But he had a fallout with Barkat and chose to run against him and place billboards across the city urging him to leave for national politics.
“When Nir was good for Jerusalem and cared about the city, I was at his side,” Salman said. “But when I saw that he didn’t care anymore and that he was making political deals with his former rivals, I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Salman is a member of the Likud, but he intends to run on an independent list called “Jerusalem headed by Avi Salman.”
It remains unclear who will run in the October 30, 2018, race. Besides Salman and possibly Barkat, city councilmen Moshe Lion and Meir Turgeman are expected to run, as will an ultra-Orthodox candidate.
“Lion ran last time, but he behaved like a scaredy cat by joining Barkat as his deputy after telling the residents he was so bad for the city,” Salman said. “All the other possible candidates are afraid to losing their jobs, so they are waiting. I quit mine, and I’m running.”