“Meet the Candidates” Event Summary

On 23 October 2018, we partnered with The Here & There Club to bring you a special event: Meet The Candidates Running for Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Hall. An audience of 200+ came out to Kanta to hear from representatives of 10 parties running in the Tel Aviv local elections.

Below is a summary of what the candidates told us.  For a general summary of each party, including the letters which will be on each party’s ballot slip, click here.

First Round: Tell us about your party platform in 4 minutes or less:

Olim Beyachad (Olim Together) – represented by Vika Kanar:

  • Olim need a voice in the city
  • Integration of olim into the local community
  • Making municipal services more accessible for olim
  • Making it easier for olim to enter high-level jobs

Tel Aviv 1 – represented by Lior Shapira:

  • We are Ron Huldai’s party
  • We have tripled the budget for olim services and will do more to keep olim here
  • Tel Aviv must be good for olim, as there are more here than ever before
  • We want to create a hub for olim

Ir Yeruka (Green City) – represented by Hagar Ben-Shlomo:

  • We are a party of environmental activists; we want to bring that activism to inside city hall.
  • Issues which concern us:
    • Plan for pollution management. Pollution from transport is highly significant.
    • Bike lanes
    • We need to stop sewerage running into our beautiful beaches
    • Affordable housing
    • Garbage bins in South Tel Aviv

Meretz – represented by Gaby Lasky:

  • Meretz is Israel’s social democratic party.  We are proud lefties.
  • We believe there is a strong connection between the national and local levels of government and we should be fighting at all levels. For example:
    • If the national government wants to ban certain artists from performing, Tel Aviv should be taking an active stand to support them.
    • If there are national obstacles to housing development, Tel Aviv needs to take a stand and build more affordable housing.
  • Tel Aviv should be free, pluralistic and equal.  We should allow for pluralistic approaches to various ceremonies, as well as education. Civil weddings at City Hall.
  • Gaby Lasky was the chairwoman of council’s Women’s Equality committee. That committee was successful in stopping the distribution/littering of sex worker cards on the street.
  • We need more community buildings so that we can get to know our neighbors.
  • We need safe and free public spaces.

Ichud Tel Aviv (Unity Tel Aviv) – represented by Marina Smolyanov:

  • Olim are a key focus of our party. We have many solutions which could improve residents’ lives which are simple and inexpensive to implement. For example:
    • Asking Israelis to “Adopt an oleh” to assist with integration.
    • One day a month in which municipal services are dedicated to assisting olim with bureaucratic processes.
    • Use community buildings, such as Mazeh 9, to unite various Tel Aviv communities on weekends (shabbat dinners, for example).

Mekomi Tel Aviv (Local Tel Aviv / My Place is Tel Aviv) – represented by Shanna Orlik:

  • Mekomi is a grassroots movement of young people who believe that they need better representation in the municipality. The Average age of city council members is 55, but 1/3 of Tel Avivim are 35 and under.  Mekomi brings direct representation in the form of students, entrepreneurs, renters, artists and more.
  • Key aspects of the platform:
    • Rent – prices and better oversight of landlords
    • Transportation and mobility (including public transport on shabbat and improved bike lanes)
    • Sustainability
    • Culture, including support for artists

Ma’aminim (Believers) – represented by Michael Ben Shoshan:

  • Michael is an oleh from France who has NGO experience.
  • Olim need better infrastructure for learning Hebrew and better representation and assistance at local government level.
  • Child care for school-aged children is extremely expensive and something must be done to help parents in this regard.

Rov Ha’Ir (“most of the city”) – represented by Rachel Schonwald:

  • We are the party of Asaf Zamir.  Asaf cares deeply about olim issues, as well as about accountability of leadership: We believe that the mayor and all council members need to be working constantly to improve lives and services. We cannot just say that the national government is responsible for all of our problems – we must work to change things.
  • We must constantly ask – what have we done and what can we do better?

Hareshima HaTelAvivit (The Tel Avivi party) – represented by Noah Efron:

  • Tel Aviv is a diverse city, but we don’t need to be divided into interest groups: “We are all here and we all get along”. Hareshima HaTelAvivit brings together environmental, social, Mizrahi, feminist and more activists. It is one of only two parties headed by a female.
  • The current system of local politics is broken – the mayor buys support from coalition partners. Hareshima HaTelAvivit wants to work together with local residents.
    • Example: Kiryat Sefer Park was established by local residents.  The mayor initially said it could not be done, but the local activists won and the park is thriving.
  • We believe in strong public participation in decision-making: In allowing residents to have a real say in the decisions which affect their lives.
  • The municipality must be transparent: Several years ago Noah Efron successfully sued the mayor to require him to publish the municipal budget.
  • Transportation is a key issue: Support public transport on shabbat. Support better infrastructure for cycling.
  • Other issues: Rent, street lights in South Tel Aviv, human trafficking.

Anachnu Ha’Ir (We Are the City) – represented by party leader Assaf Harel:

  • As much as Tel Aviv is great, Israel is on a worrying path.  Assaf and his party believe that we need to repair Tel Aviv’s relationship with the rest of the country: Instead of being a bubble, we can lead by example.
  • The party is comprised of Jews and Arabs because coexistence must start here.
  • We need much more social justice across the city of Tel Aviv.

Second Round: What is one project which the municipality currently runs which you support, and what is one project that you are so passionate about, that you would sacrifice your political career fighting for it:

Olim Beyachad (Olim Together) – represented by Vika Kanar:

  • Support – Tel Aviv Fashion Week
  • Passion – The Meshutaf (Religious-Secular) School

Tel Aviv 1 – represented by Lior Shapira:

  • Support – Autotel car sharing
  • Want to introduce a new hub for immigrants
  • (Did not answer about passion project, but did express a belief that most of what others are proposing is impossible because of national government)

Ir Yeruka (Green City) – represented by Hagar Ben-Shlomo:

  • We are against Autotel
  • Passion – Stop development at Kikar Atarim (Plaza at Ben Gurion, beach end)

Meretz – represented by Gaby Lasky:

  • Support – Actually becoming a smart city instead of just saying we are
  • Passion – 1,000,000 trees in Tel Aviv; Civil marriage at City Hall

Ichud Tel Aviv (Unity Tel Aviv) – represented by Marina Smolyanov:

  • Support – Bike lanes, but need to improve them
  • Passion – Municipality needs to be more accountable across the board.

Mekomi Tel Aviv (Local Tel Aviv / My Place is Tel Aviv) – represented by Shanna Orlik:

  • Support – Mazeh 9.  Great template, want to replicate across the city.
  • Passion – Housing, rent, holding landlords accountable.

Ma’aminim (Believers) – represented by Michael Ben Shoshan:

  • Passion – Reduce cost of Tzaharon (after school care)

Rov Ha’Ir (“most of the city”) – represented by Rachel Schonwald:

  • Support – Chevruta – School students from across the city studying together
  • Passion – Public transport on shabbat and improved bike lanes

Hareshima HaTelAvivit (The Tel Avivi party) – represented by Noah Efron:

  • Support – Kiryat Sefer Park (story above)
  • Passion – Making sure that citizens’ voices are heard about everything that matters

Anachnu Ha’Ir (We Are the City) – represented by party leader Assaf Harel:

  • Support – Bike lanes and continually improving the cycling infrastructure
  • Passion – Elevating the status of the Arabic language in the city


Summary by Cygal Pellach, Kol Oleh

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