Nitzan Horowitz Declares Candidacy in Tel Aviv Mayoral Race

Vows to build affordable housing; City should build and manage housing itself, the Meretz MK urges.

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The first shot has been fired in the Tel Aviv mayoral race, even though local government elections are a full five months off. Nitzan Horowitz, a Knesset member for Meretz, vowed to run against the incumbent mayor, Ron Huldai.

“My name is Nitzan Horowitz,” he began his emotional statement at the Nahum Gutman Museum in Neve Tzedek on Monday.

The hall was packed with activists wearing T-shirts with the inscription “Nitzan our mayor.”

Horowitz, 48, a declared gay man, was elected three months ago for a second term in Knesset. He was a journalist before embarking on his parliamentary career and is a lawyer by training.

In recent weeks he has begun to put together a campaign team.

“I adore this city,” said Horowitz. “I can’t imagine my life anywhere else.”

At the start of his remarks, he complimented Huldai: “All the mayors have done good things here, including the current mayor, who has been in office for 15 years now,” he said, but later he criticized Huldai both directly and indirectly.

“Are you asking me where the money is?” he queried rhetorically, aping Yair Lapid's highly successful campaign slogan. “With what it cost to renovate the municipality building it would have been possible to build 100 new kindergartens in the city. You decide, you say what is worth more in your opinion.”

Horowitz addressed a number of other issues as well, including education, transportation, housing, the migrants living in south Tel Aviv and sluggish municipal bureaucracy.

Among other things, he related to the high cost of renting a home in Tel Aviv.

“Have you asked yourselves how a young person or an elderly person can continue to live in this city?" Horowitz demanded of his audience. "The young can’t afford an apartment, the prices are crazy, and the elderly person has at some stage to give up his apartment in order to pay for senior housing."

Meanwhile, he said, towers with huge apartments are going up here at "swinish prices" – and most of the year they stand empty. "Does this sound reasonable to you?” he urged, and promised to promote affordable housing and senior housing.

His message will be one of "respect for the citizens," Horowitz vowed. “After all, what is a city? Real estate and roads? A city is its inhabitants, the people who and are active in it. A good city, a proper city, is a city that knows how to give as good a life as possible to as many people as possible. This is my aim.”

He added that the municipality can and should advance solutions for the housing shortage. “ Not only can a municipality plan housing projects that also have, for example, small apartments, affordable apartments. It can do the construction itself," Horowitz said. "It can rent out apartments itself. It can manage apartments. The municipality has the means and it has the authority in law to bring true affordable housing here, gradually of course."

In an answer to a question from Haaretz about the mounting friction between veteran inhabitants and newcomers in south Tel Aviv, Horowitz replied: “The situation in south Tel Aviv is intolerable. It is a powder keg and you don’t need to be a sociologist or an expert to understand that it can't go on."

The solution, according to him, is to block the import of foreign workers and to give work permits - throughout the country - to migrants who are already in Israel.

Nitzan Horowitz announces candidacy in Tel Aviv mayoral raceCredit: Nir Kafri
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron HuldaiCredit: Dan Keinan

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