Religion Magazine

Bet Shemesh Elections Guest Post: Kol Shachar for City Council: Why? Who?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
A guest post by Zev Kaplan-(#2 on list of Kol Shachar)

With all the attention being given to the important election for mayor, it is easy to overlook the fact that that at the same time and place there is also an important(to a lesser and different degree) election for the City Council-he body that is made up of representatives of the many diferent groups and political parties in the city. These representatives along with the mayor run the city and without a majority of the 19 (at least 10) the city can't pass any decisions and would be at a standstill(much like the U.S, is now). The mayor himself(or herself) is part of the council and has a vote no greater or less important than any other member-he runs the monthly meetings which are open to the public and available to listen to on the city's website.

On Election Day(Oct 22-Cheshvan 18) when we present ourselves and teudat zehut we are given two envelopes-one for our choice for mayor (yellow ticket) and the other for our choice for city council(white ticket).According to the local press there are three candidates for mayor(Eli Cohen,Moshe Abutbul and Meir Balayish) and 13 lists vying for seats on the city council.  The yellow tickets have the mayoral candidates names on them and the white tickets have the party's name at the bottom  and a  letter (or two or three)  which is the identifing symbol for those counting the ballots.This is as opposed to Knesset elections where we only have one envelope in which we vote for a party and the prime minister is (generally) the person at the head of the party that gets the most votes.The votes are totally separate and are independent choices of each other.  

This system allows people to express two important aspects of what is important to them in voting-one more "global" and one more "sectoral". Without getting into the issue of Eli Cohen vs. Moshe Abutbul (the two candidates with a realistic chance of winning the election)  which has dominated the local headlines for close to to a year, the question we Anglos must ask ourselves is which party in the city council will represent our interests-especially in light of the fact that Shalom Lerner, who was a oseik b'tzarchei tzibbur par excellence, has retired from city politics. The city councilperson is Israel is much like your local representative-one whom you may i see on a day-to-day basis and certainly should have no trouble contacting and communicating with on an as needed basis should issues of concern arise.

We at Kol Shachar feel that given our unique situation here in Bet Shemesh/Ramat Bet Shemesh it is critical that there be a party that  will be primarily focused on the needs of immigrants from English-speaking countries. Given our combination of  Western openness, idealism for choosing to live in Israel, and generally balanced  stands on religious issues(without compromising halacha) our voice in the city council will provide an important antidote to  incompetence, extremism and division and will stand up for issues important to our community. Our Governing Board is headed by Rav Yoni Rosensweig (Netzach Menashe) and our list is made up of men and women from  across the religious spectrum with the background and experience to  advocate for youth-related issues,quality of life issues, projects critical to the future economic growth of Bet Shemesh and ways to build affordable housing for all populations. We aim to do this in a professional manner and hold to our motto of "Representation,Transparency and Conscientiousness".

In conclusion, I myself have  long grappled with the question of whether the prevalence of sectoral parties is positive or not. The reality is that it is a fact(even the Ashkenazy charedim broke up into three lists according to which group they belong to) that the "petek lavan" (city council vote) is meant for groups to vote according their narrow interest. Several other local parties are based around one dynamic leader who heads the party and various  national parties with a much greater interest than the needs of the citizens of Bet Shemesh (let alone Anglos). are also competing.  Kol Shachar gives all Anglos (and hopefully many others too) an option that is made up of qualified members of our community without compromising quality and will be a strong voice for our community when complex issues come up as they invariably do here in this city. Of course it  goes without saying that we would equally represent ALL citizens of Bet Shemesh fairly with regards to public services  and promote  the betterment of our city as a preferred haven and magnet for Jews from the four corners of the world For more information please email us at [email protected] or call (054)6269917
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