TA rents are key issue in mayoral race

Former IAF general and mayor Ron Huldai faces Dov Khenin of the communist Arab-Jewish Hadash party.

hadash mk dov henin 248 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
hadash mk dov henin 248
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
If a single topic could be chosen as the key to winning votes in the run-up to Tel Aviv's mayoral elections, it would be the cost of rent. After completing their military service and often travelling around the world to release steam, large numbers of young people from across the country try their luck in Tel Aviv, the city that offers an unrivalled nightlife and endless cultural attractions, but which also leaves its young tenants living in run-down one-room apartments struggling to make ends meet. The cost of living and rent in Tel Aviv has been the main area in which incumbent mayor, Ron Huldai, head of the One Tel Aviv list, and MK Dov Henin, of the communist-leaning Arab-Jewish Hadash party have clashed most. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on the eve of the elections, Henin, who heads the Tel Aviv for Everyone list, said rent was a gateway issue to a clash between opposing worldviews. "I feel excellent. We have made history in our city," Henin said. "We created an effective model of alternative politics, and brought real arguments to the table that interest the people of Tel Aviv-Yafo. I'm proud of our contribution to this debate." Henin's platform calls for city hall to get involved in promoting the availability of low rents for the city's young people, and accuses Huldai of giving preferential treatment to luxury home developers. "We will attempt to activate a public housing law to build new apartments for rent," Henin said, describing one of a host of measures he said he would implement to increase the number of available apartments. "Many people feel Tel Aviv-Yafo is a city for the rich. We want to make it a city for everyone, including its younger residents," he added. If elected, Henin vowed he would also work to create a network of high-speed clean buses and reduce the car dependency that still plagues the city. "While we're not opposed to a subway system, we need solutions now," he said. Doron Sapir, a lawyer, city hall employee, and member of Ron Huldai's list, dismissed Henin's arguments as lacking substance. "I don't know what separates us, because I don't really understand Henin's stance," he told the Post. "The reason rent prices, which is the issue being used against us, have gone up significantly is because Tel Aviv has become so attractive. The rising cost of living is a result of Tel Aviv's allure. "Tel Aviv must build more apartments, either horizontally or vertically. There's no other way, and hence there is no argument here," he added. "This is happening all over the city - in the south, in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood, in the east, in Yafo, and in the Florentine area. The south is developing very fast. In the coming five years, there will be thousands of new apartments in southern Tel Aviv," Sapir said. "We feel very good this evening. Our mission is to awaken our supporters and bring them out to vote. We're stressing the whole party list, not just Huldai," he added. Responding to Sapir's claims, Henin said, "If someone is making these claims, then I don't think they have read our platforms and studied our solutions. There is a limit to shallowness, even in Huldai's camp."