Running the Ra’anana race

He may be the new kid on the block, but he plans to do much more than play. Eitan Gluck is, in his own words, ‘the next mayor of Ra’anana’

Eitan Gluck 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eitan Gluck 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
His office looks like any other law office.
Nothing on the walls indicate the big plans its occupant has. Eitan Gluck, 53, who looks younger than his years, runs his own law firm and has an extensive management background in major companies such as Elite, Jafora drinks and the Tevel cable company. Gluck is running for mayor of Ra’anana against veteran politicians Nachum Hofri and Ze’ev Bielski.
Looking at your impressive resume, what motivated you to get involved in municipal politics?
I’ve been living in Ra’anana for 23 years, and I’m proud to call it my home. After hearing so many comments and complaints, I realized that if I wanted to help this city and community, I had to get out of my comfort zone and get my hands dirty. I need to run this city and to do it better. I want to bring to the table a management that will run this city from the heart, not just a bunch of technocrats. The problem is that I’m running against two very familiar faces, but I think we have reached a point where people realize that there are now three candidates and that there’s a third option. Most people agree that a change is needed. The question isn’t who is worthy – all the candidates are worthy; the question is who the right man for the job is right now. Not who the right man was, but who he is right now.
What are the issues that you would approach immediately?
I bring high management skills and out-of-thebox thinking to the table. I also intend to take care of the not-so-sexy issues, such as the municipal debt.
Ra’anana is approximately NIS 320 million in debt, and no other candidate has offered a solution to this problem. The city used to prosper under [former mayor] Bielski, but that was at a time when the city had money.
Now no one’s guaranteeing that he can run the city when resources are depleted. I lead major companies with hundreds of employees and giant budgets, and I want to steer this city forward and toward its people.
How do you intend to accomplish that?
I want to pull Ra’anana forward, although it has barely any natural growth engines. Campaign slogans and promises regarding expansion are nice, but in reality we can build 3,000-4,000 housing units at best.
After that, there won’t be any growth engines. I intend to continue bringing more hi-tech companies into the city, but I also intend to bring money into the city through out-of-the-box ideas. I want to revitalize Ahuza Street and bring nightlife to the industrial zone too, to offer young people more work and entertainment opportunities. One idea I have is branding Ra’anana as the “city of music” by bringing recording studios, concert halls, music clubs and cafés, to this area, and even have some jamming, on Ahuza Street, as well as businesses that surround and celebrate the Israeli music industry. We might even build an Israeli music hall of fame. In my opinion, this will bring people into Ra’anana, and people means business and an increase in cash flow. Not only going out to Herzliya or Tel Aviv, but our own city with a beating heart. We need a mayor that can create this heart and not a mayor for a sleeping city. This could be a quality growth engine with net municipal profits. It will generate recreational options for young people and create a new sense of pride in the city.
Will that affect the religious-secular status quo?
I believe that Ra’anana has a special charm to it. Some call it “status quo,” but I think it’s actually more vital to the secular crowd than the religious, who appreciate it for obvious reasons. Many secular residents I talk to say that they would prefer Ahuza to remain closed on Shabbat because they enjoy the peace and quiet it renders. That’s how it should remain in the center of Ra’anana, but on the outskirts we need to create more options on the weekends in such areas as the park and the industrial zone.
A burning issue today is the high cost of living. What can be done?
That is a tricky subject, since we want Ra’anana to be better and to attract more, but we also want to lower the cost of living, especially for young families. Any promises like “we shall build more” are just campaign promises, since, as I said before, there is very limited space. I think we can come up with other ideas – subsidized kindergartens and perhaps even propertry tax for young couples (pending Finance Ministry approval). Students returning to live in Ra’anana can take out loans that will be only partially paid pending their return. These are the types of innovative ideas I have because I don’t want to just give empty promises such as “building affordable apartments for young couples” and then not do it.
Ra’anana is going through with major transportation projects. What is your vision regarding these issues?
First of all, any project outside of the city (such as the 531 Highway) has almost nothing to do with the mayor.
That is a national-level decision and implementation.
Ra’anana’s municipality has to concentrate on inner city transportation, which is currently a catastrophe.
For example, Ra’anana doesn’t even have its own transportation engineer. Instead, a civil engineer deals with this critical subject part time. For instance, the establishment of a new neighborhood north of Weizmann Street has already been announced, but lack of transportation solutions in that area, which already has major traffic jams in the morning, weren’t even considered. Can you imagine adding several hundred more cars to it every morning? All these slogans have one problem: They don’t hold up in reality. This city needs to take a break and ask itself if this is what it really wants. To dwell on the past or to move forward? Look around us: The US president must leave the White House after two terms; most CEOs head a company for several years, and then someone fresh moves in. In Ra’anana, some people want a trip down memory lane, but I say that if we won’t move forward, we will inevitably go backwards. Ra’anana doesn’t need memories and promises; it needs plans, action, energy and enthusiasm. I believe I have all that and more.
The writer is a Ra’anana resident with a BA in International Relations from the Hebrew University and a political blog on The Marker Cafe.