Kulanu MK and former Jerusalem deputy mayor Rachel Azaria is considering to run in the Jerusalem mayoral race in the October election.Azaria told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that since Mayor Nir Barkat’s announcement on Sunday that he will not run for a third term in office, she is “studying the situation,” but would not go into more details. Following the announcement, Azaria said she commends Barkat’s decade-long dedication to the city, but Jerusalem still faces challenges “that were not dealt with, such as employment and housing issues.”She concluded the statement by saying that she will “keep working for Jerusalem in the coming years.”Sources close to Azaria said that since Sunday, many people have turned to her about the issue and she is “checking” to see if the possibility is viable.
The sources added that the possibility of whether or not Azaria would run depends on moves that would be conducted by the Likud and the ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem – meaning who will be their representatives.They also said that Azaria did not set a clear deadline in which she will announce whether she is running or not, and she waits until “things will be clear.”Azaria was the head of the Yerushalmim faction in the Jerusalem city council and left in 2015 to join Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party.Barkat’s announcement to reshuffle the cards in the race begs to question who will be the leading candidate.On Tuesday, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion – who was a candidate in the last election and lost to Barkat – officially announced his candidacy.At the campaign launch, he said: “I reached this moment after a long way full of accomplishments and challenges... I come here to do make dreams come true along with you – and take Jerusalem high up, as the eternal united capital of Israel.”Other figures that have already announced their candidacy include Hitorerut Party head and municipal opposition leader Ofer Berkovich; former municipal prosecutor Yossi Havilio; and Barkat’s former adviser Avi Salman.But bigger names are thought to be considering to join the race – including Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, coalition chairman David Amsalem and former MK Erel Margalit.
Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat voices his support for Benjamin Netanyahu (Lahav Harkov)