Beersheba Mayor Yaakov Terner trounced in bid for another term by a rival half his age.
By DAN IZENBERG
In what defeated Beersheba Mayor Yaakov Terner called the "Obama effect," young candidates beat out their much older rivals in several key municipal races across the country on Tuesday.
Terner, 73, fell to 37-year-old Rubik Danilovitz, who has served as the outgoing mayor's deputy for the past five years. Danilovitz received 60.5% of the vote, compared to 30% for Terner.
In Rishon Lezion, Meir Nitzan, 76, who has served as mayor for the past 25 years, was defeated by 56-year-old Dov Tzur. Tzur won 52.3% of the vote, compared to Nitzan's 47.7%.
Ashdod also saw the end of an era as Zvi Zilker, 75, was defeated by 51-year-old Yehiel Lasri, who received 56% to Zilker's 44%. Zilker had served as mayor of Ashdod since it was incorporated as a city in 1969, except for one stretch of six years in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, in Kiryat Bialik, incumbent Rafi Wertheim, 66, was trounced by his bitter rival, Eli Dukorski, 44. Dukorski received 43% compared to only 19% for Wertheim.
In most areas of the North, however, incumbent mayors were restored to office for another five years, in some cases winning by large majorities.
There was no surprise in Haifa, where incumbent Yona Yahav won a second term, beating Ya'acov Borovsky by capturing 46.5% of the vote to Borovsky's 37.3%. Veteran mayor Shlomo Buhbut won 66% in Ma'alot Tarshiha, while Adi Eldar took 57.7% in Karmiel. In Acre, Mayor Shimon Lancry, who made some controversial statements following the riots in his city in October, was elected for a second term, receiving 65%. In Nahariya, Jacky Sabag was reelected with 55.1%.
In the South, the most intriguing race took place in Sderot, where three candidates fought it out during the campaign but former mayor David Buskila won easily, receiving 45.1% of the vote. Ahlama Peretz, wife of former defense minister and Sderot mayor Amir Peretz, won 25.2%, while David Alon won 24.2%.
Another Peretz family member, Flora, was running neck-and-neck with Yitzhak Zargari for head of the Mitzpe Ramon local council. The soldiers' votes will decide the outcome.
In Katzrin, Sammy Bar-Lev, who has been head of he local council for 31 years, was reelected with a majority of 72%, while in Ma'aleh Adumim, incumbent Benny Kasriel won by 71.3%.
There will be election runoffs in several towns and cities where none of the candidates managed to win at least 40% of the vote, including Safed, Rehovot, Kiryat Shmona and Metullah.
While voter turnout was higher in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than in the last elections in 2003, the overall turnout plunged to 40%, the lowest by far in the state's history.
During a press conference on Tuesday evening, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said he would consider passing legislation calling for a fine against anyone who did not cast his or her ballot.
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