After peeling away the images and ideology from the platforms of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and his challenger Dov Khenin, it turns out the differences aren't huge, possibly because Israeli mayors' scope of authority is smaller than it appears.

Housing: Tel Aviv has became a magnet not only because of what it offers, but also due to a warped governmental policy that encourages migration from the periphery. Subsidized housing for young people could accelerate that trend. Huldai only recently began proposing affordable housing, but pressure in that direction is sure to grow. It's worth remembering that even when London subsidizes housing for needed professions, it's in the suburbs and not the city center.

Transportation: Bike paths on sidewalks aren't an ideal solution, but Tel Aviv is more bicycle-friendly now than ever. The Curitiba, Brazil model of extensive bike paths is impressive, but it's too late for that here. Too bad Huldai didn't fight harder for the subway, which could have closed the city center to private cars and reduced air pollution, but like all public transportation projects, it depends on state funding. And don't believe any candidate who promises to stop giving parking tickets.

Planning and building: Tel Aviv was designed as a garden city, but it turned into a metropolis without proper infrastructure. The ugly high-rise apartment building recently built in the middle of old, low-rise Neve Tzedek sticks out like a sore thumb, but the beautiful and vibrant Rothschild Boulevard wouldn't exist without its high-rise office buildings.

The candidates and their city council candidates: Huldai belongs to the old style of obnoxious politicians who know how to work, not how to talk. He's an energetic, dedicated mayor with values, but even when he was principal of Tel Aviv's Gymnasia Herzliya high school he was accused of arrogance when he stood at the gate in the morning and shook the hand of every student who entered. His list of candidates is not exactly thrilling.

Dov Khenin is an excellent parliamentarian, but his administrative abilities are still untested. His Ir Lekulanu list was founded by a fascinating ideological group, but it is overshadowed by its hostility to Huldai and its purposely aggressive discussion style. These draw attention away from the critical debate over what needs to be done to improve the city.