All politics are local…

November 11, 2008 - 9:06 PM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Politics 

Modiin BallotsToday, there are municipality elections throughout the country, including in my town of Modi’in. The news is certainly focusing on all the sexy elections such as the former head of the air force vs. the communist in Tel Aviv and the high tech mogul vs the Rabbi in Jerusalem but hey, there are important issues we are dealing with here in the suburbs as well.

My wife and I have been following our local election very closely. It’s only the second time I’ll be voting where the “situation” isn’t an issue. It’s quite refreshing actually weighing candidates on issues such schools, city expansion, economic growth, dog poop etc.

Now there are two parties we support, Shachar – a party of secular and religious residents whose main emphasis is on improving education – and the Greens – who are all about the environment, improving the quality of life and care deeply about the preservation of Modiin’s local archeological sites.

Mayor is a different story. The candidate I support has been polling fairly low. Even though the two leading candidates will probably have a run off and force another election I am still voting for the lower polling candidate who I believe not only would do a superior job, but has always been responsive to my concerns as a resident of Modiin. Someone mentioned today that one should never vote on strategy but rather who you believe will do the best job. I subcribe to that philosophy as evidence in my disastrous vote for Tafnit in the last national elections. Honestly, I’ll vote for whoever promises to establish quality dog runs in Modiin. I’ve been living here almost six years and my dog has gotten pretty anti-social due to the strict leash laws and the lack of open space for our pooches to run around. That’s my issue. Bring on the dog runs!

This Year I’m a Voter…The Next Mayor Election Vote for Me, Your Deputy Mayor

November 9, 2008 - 8:33 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, History and Culture, Israeliness, Life, Politics 

Our futureDid you know that Jerusalem has six deputy mayors? And each one gets paid NIS 35,000 a month. So now you are thinking, how do I become a deputy mayor? Me too. But it’s too late for us because the election for mayor and city council are just two days away and we’re not on any of the party lists so chances are that we’re not making a career change any time soon. But for those of us voting it is important to understand that we actually get two votes, one for mayor and the other for city council. It is on the city council that these deputy mayors will sit as part of the 30-something coalition and make the crucial decisions affecting me and you.

It is also important to know that while the deputy mayors are making the big bucks, the rest of the city council is doing volunteer work–that is, they are not making a penny, or shekel, if you will. As Shira at The Big Felafel informs us:

“While the two highest elected municipality positions, mayor and deputy mayor, are paid positions, the other 29 seats on the council are volunteer positions. The mayor’s salary comes from your taxes, has his/her hand most tightly around the budget and has the best chance of passing his/her policy decisions. But the council members are either a part of the mayor’s coalition, thus helping the mayor pass policy and allocate money, or they are a part of the opposition, with a unique opportunity of exposing the improprieties of the coalition to the public and leading a strong opposing stance to the ruling force. So both votes are extremely important.”

Like Shira points out, both of your votes are crucial and with just a few days before the elections these “volunteers” are campaigning down to the wire trying to get you to vote for them. This past Thursday Hitorerut-Yerushalmim (Wake up Jerusalem) and Jerusalem Will Succeed made one of their last hits on the campaign trail in an English forum hoping to inform Anglo voters and make them vote for their team.

The head of Wake up Jerusalem’s list, Rachel Azaria, stressed the fact that their party does not answer to anyone. They are the people and they answer to the people and no one else. This list is dedicated only to the residents of Jerusalem and therefore does not have an adjacent party in the Knesset that they must take their cues from. They are young and most of them come from careers in social change.

And while youth can mean a fresh start for the city, Naomi Tsur of Jerusalem Will Succeed holds that against them, for the usual reason of inexperience. Tsur, former head of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Jerusalem decided to make the switch to government after her long battle with creating a sustainable Jerusalem. She explained that their party comes with mayoral candidate Nir Barkat. And if he is elected he will need the support of his coalition to help him implement his policies, thus he will need people from his own party to be a part of the coalition since they already agree with everything he stands for. As far as the young and fresh thing goes, Tsur said they have a young person on their list, as well as other representatives, like a native Russian speaker, French speaker, two pensioners and an Ethiopian.

So as you head to the startup capital of the world’s technologically advanced polling system – placing a paper in an envelope inside a cardboard box – remember to vote for mayor and city council. You can find a list of all the city council choices on The Big Felafel.


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