Mayoral Platforms Debate Summary

On 28 October 2018, we partnered with The Here & There Club and AmbassadorHQ to bring you a special event: Mayoral Platforms DebateOur audience came out to Kanta to hear a debate between three of the four candidates running for mayor (or their representatives).

  • Ron Huldai was represented by Lior Shapira;
  • Asaf Zamir was represented by Shelly Dvir;
  • Assaf Harel represented himself

Below is a summary of what we heard from the candidates.  To simplify this, we used the candidates names rather than the names of their representatives. For a general summary of each candidate and their backgrounds, click here.


EMPLOYMENT – job hunting ideas for olim

  • Ron Huldai – Olim hub – to make it easier for olim to meet up with native born Israelis, make connections and stay in Israel.
  • Assaf Harel – Olim can help make the connections between Tel Aviv and the rest of the world. We need them in exactly those professions where they will bring Tel Aviv to the world and vice versa.
  • Asaf Zamir – We need to have programs which match people to the professions which they arrive with.  Our thinking is along the lines of: What kind of incentives can the city give to the private sector to take in new employees?  Quota for educational professions.

ENVIRONMENT

  • Assaf Harel – Tel Aviv is not up to scratch on environmental issues.  We don’t recycle enough, we don’t test pollution levels enough.  Need to change. Anachnu Ha’Ir (Assaf’s party) is partnering with Green Course (environmental NGO) for environmental solutions.
  • Asaf Zamir – We need to require small and medium sized businesses to have better environmental practices using incentives. The city should take an active role in this process.
  • Ron Huldai – One of the largest manufacturers recycles in the Tel Aviv area. We have also planted thousands of trees and introduced green transport options such as Tel-O-Fun.
  • Asaf Zamir – There are still not enough trees. Too many public squares are not shaded.
  • Assaf Harel – The city is dirty. We all know that it is not up to the standard of modern international cities. The tree planting has concentrated mostly in the north of the city.
  • Ron Huldai – We have increased tree planting significantly over the past 10 years and will continue to do so.

TRANSPORT – dangers of electric bikes and scooters

  • Asaf Zamir – This is one of our main platforms. Asaf has never been directly responsible for transportation and the current Mayor is not proactive: He says it’s the responsibility of national government.  Asaf takes a different view: We can be proactive: Pedestrians must come first. We need better enforcement on the sidewalk. Bike lanes must be on the road. This is the first issue we would tackle if elected.
  • Ron Huldai – Agrees with everything in Asaf Zamir’s platform. But we know for a fact that some of the actions which are required are the responsibility of the national government.
  • Assaf Harel – Of course I agree with Asaf Zamir’s platform, but no one has done it to date.  All the voters are in the north of the city and every morning they get into their cars and drive to work. I’m talking about real bike lanes in place of parking – that’s how you create a real structure for bikes in the city. Tel Aviv should become more public transport oriented, including moniot sheirut.
  • Asaf Zamir – Of course pedestrians come first.

TRANSPORT – public transport on shabbat

  • Asaf Zamir – There is a coalition agreement with Shas which prohibits the introduction of public transport on Shabbat. It’s not the national government – it’s a local agreement.
  • Ron Huldai – Shas left the coalition and yet no one initiated public transport on Shabbat. We went to the government in 2012 and asked them for a solution but it didn’t work out. There are no simple solutions to changing the transport situation in the city.

HOUSING – affordability

  • Ron Huldai – There is no affordable housing initiated by national government. But Tel Aviv has required that new buildings have apartments suitable for young couples. There is no rent control, it’s difficult to fight housing prices. Everyone wants to live in Tel Aviv, so prices go up. It’s a big problem, it’s difficult.
  • Assaf Harel – It’s not THAT difficult. We could have had 1,000 apartments built per year for the past 20 years. Now he finally understands, but it’s too late. In general, 20% of all buildings in the city should be affordable. Including buildings for purchase and long-term rental.
  • Asaf Zamir – It is difficult. We have 80,000 apartments for 300,000 households who want to live in them. The city built 150 apartments at a cost of 100 million shekels. We might need other solutions. For example, copying the center of Tel Aviv to other neighborhoods. Perhaps a similar program to Paris, where the municipality is buying apartments on the free market. We really need to focus on the new neighborhoods.

REFUGEES in South Tel Aviv

  • Assaf Harel – We are the only party who have a refugee as a member of the party. We see them as part of the city and we meet with them and we see them as one of us – as equals. Huldai did a good thing by providing them with education. They should be able to live all over the city and all over Israel. There was a plan to give them employment, but the government didn’t adopt it. We would. They are people, just like us. They don’t get basic respect. They are treated as enemies. They are not a problem. We can give them an opportunity to become something much more.
  • Asaf Zamir – To sit back, close our eyes and hope that the national government will do something, is not going to work. Bibi will not do it. We need to face that it’s our responsibility. Need better infrastructure in South Tel Aviv. Need to make their lives easier – education, welfare, and we would support third country agreement if it happens. We will develop a strategic plan for refugees in South Tel Aviv.
  • Ron Huldai – Everything that Asaf Zamir says we agree with and are doing it. 12.3% of children in Tel Aviv are refugees. Tel Aviv does not have the power or authority to disperse them all around Israel or send them overseas. Hatikvah, Shapira, Neve Sha’anan are collapsing. We are adding kindergartens and schools and infrastructure to help both refugees and locals in those neighborhoods. We clean the streets 4 – 5 times a day. We hope the Israeli government does make a plan which disperses refugees around Israel and gives them work permits.

AUTOTEL

  • Ron Huldai – We are 100% behind this program. 275 cars. Twice as many parking spaces, but some in parking lots. Every car takes away 10 cars. 10 people use each car per day. People are very unhappy to see empty Autotel parking spaces, but if they were not used for Autotel, someone would take your parking space. Our goal is to help people to forfeit car ownership: The combination of subway (under construction), taxis, public transport and bikes should allow that.
  • Asaf Zamir – Autotel was Zamir’s initiative. We are pro-innovation and Tel Aviv should lead the way. Autotel has been active only 8 months – we can’t say yet if it has been successful or not. We want to have a 3-year trial. The cars are not replacing 10 cars each – the data does not support that. BUT people ARE using it. We will give it three years to see if we do get to the point where each car replaces 10 cars and if we don’t reach that or other appropriate targets, we will cancel the program.
  • Assaf Harel – We object to the program. Until we have public transport on Shabbat, people need their cars and car parking spaces. In addition, the program benefits only those who can afford it. We want to focus on better public transport for all residents.

KIKAR ATARIM (Ben Gurion Blvd, beach end)

  • Ron Huldai – Current situation blocks sea and it is ugly and should be destroyed. The land is privately owned, with only 22% owned by municipality. The rest is developers and they don’t want to give it or sell it. The only solution is to allow development that will incorporate opening the site to the sea. That is how the tower project came about.
  • Assaf Harel – We are against any towers that close to the shoreline.

CLOSING STATEMENTS

  • Assaf Harel – Tel Aviv is not a normal city because it is in Israel, which is not a normal country. Tel Aviv must take a stand on issues happening in Israel. We can be a city which makes statements about Israel as a whole – e.g. Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict. We can get out of our bubble and take the lead.
  • Ron Huldai – Our record speaks for itself. PLEASE vote and PLEASE vote for one of the three parties sitting here or Meretz. Those are the parties who will fight to make a difference.
  • Asaf Zamir – has been in Council for 10 years and now he can lead. My heart is with Assaf Harel but he does not have experience. It’s a big budget and very complicated local government dynamics. Asaf Zamir knows the lay of the land and has practical plans. Huldai blames the national government for inaction on several issues; we want to take things into our own hands. Huldai has been mayor for 20 years. After 20 years, it’s hard to take criticism, hard to see things from a different angle. The only option is stagnation or going backwards – neither is what we want to see. The city is a living organ and we need to move with it. We need fresh eyes and fresh ideas. That’s what Zamir offers.

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