Election Diary: Politics doesn't pay

Nir Barkat pledges that if elected, he won't accept a salary.

  • Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat has renewed his commitment from his previous electoral campaign: If he is elected mayor of Jerusalem in the upcoming elections, he will renounce the post's monthly salary of about NIS 35,000.
  • The Green list created and formed by Arieh Hess and Dr. Gideon Stachel, is convinced that haredi overrepresentation in the city council is the real danger facing the capital. Their solution? Instead of the present electoral system, they proposed to the Interior Ministry that Jerusalem be split into 27 electoral districts: 19 in which secular and religious Zionists will be the majority, four for the haredi neighborhoods and four more for the Arab communities in the city. "This is the only way to prevent the haredim of Jerusalem from transforming the city into the capital of the haredi people," explained Hess. Another proposal is to get the city council - this one or the next - to approve the allocation of at least 25 percent of the arnona (property tax) in each neighborhood to green and environmental projects. On another note, after losing SPNI director of urban communities Naomi Tsur, who joined Barkat's list, city councilor Dalia Zommer, who was one of the first Hess approached for his Green list, is unsure of her own status in the list after she was told that her place in the list would be decided according to her popularity in the polls.
  • Barkat has revealed another member of his new list: Kobi Kahlon, brother of Moshe Kahlon from the Likud and a veteran member of the same party. Kobi Kahlon will be second on the list, after Tsur, which might sound strange since, at least officially, Barkat himself is still a member of Kadima. Another name that might appear on the Barkat list is Simmy Mor, chairman of the local branch of the World Zionist Organization. Mor, by the way, is also being courted by city councilor Meir Turgeman, who is building a list for city council largely constituted of social activists and neighborhood administration volunteers, titled "The List for Jerusalem Residents." Turgeman was once a member of Barkat's present list at city council, but split about two years ago.
  • Meretz has announced that the fifth spot on its list will be occupied by Dede Benisti, an activist for the Social Housing Law, which was presented by MK Ran Cohen. Benisti is a resident of the impoverished Stern area of Kiryat Hayovel who overcame poverty and went on to study law at the Hebrew University.
  • Wake Up Jerusalem, the group of young locals who have worked hard for the past three months to awaken non-haredi residents to action ahead of the next elections, is trying out beauty sleep this time. Merav Cohen, one of the leaders and founders of the group, announced earlier this week that a group of activists was going to "sleep" in beds in the city center (including the Mahaneh Yehuda market) as a gimmick to send the message to residents that it is time to awaken from the "deep coma in which people are regarding the future of the city and the coming elections," explained Cohen. The event was scheduled for yesterday (Thursday), after press time.
  • Shahar, the young division of the Labor party in the city, is working hard to create a list for the city council. For the moment, Shahar head Esti Kirmayer (who plans to run as a mayoral candidate) and her friends are busy supporting residents of Kiryat Hayovel who want to end the operation of two caravans in the public garden on Rehov Warburg, a secular area, which house kindergarten classes for haredim.