David Etzioni – A Candidate for Haifa Mayor 2018
We had an opportunity to speak with David Etzioni a candidate running for Haifa Mayor in the upcoming elections on October 30th, 2018
Thank you Mr. Etzioni for taking time from your very busy schedule to talk with us, the members of the immigrant community, and share your thoughts with us.
Many new olim are not familiar with the history of Haifa or the candidates who are up for election on Tuesday. Can you please tell us who you are, your vision for the city and what you propose to change?
My name is David Etzioni, I am 35 years old. Lawyer by profession. I was born and raised in Haifa. My father, also a lawyer, has been running his law firm here for over 40 years and my grandfather was a supreme court justice who also resided in Haifa. After the army in the Oketz Unit, I have worked along with the current Israeli Minister of Finance, and became one of his closest colleagues and advisor for 3 years. I believe that this position qualifies me for the position I am currently running for as mayor of Haifa. One of my main projects, in which I am fiercely proud of, was the monetary and financial handling of the 2016 great fire which struck Haifa.
I am a great believer in the potential of Haifa, I plan on raising the quality of life, preventing the negative immigration and boosting the employment opportunities while fighting for our health by lowering pollution.
One of the big issues for new immigrants who move to Haifa is employment. The employment opportunities in Haifa are very limited. Yona Yahav encouraged Aliyah to Haifa. People were excited to move here and enjoy what city had to offer, however it soon became apparent that work opportunities for foreign language speakers were very limited and many moved out of the city. What are you planning to do to grow employment opportunities in Haifa?
This is indeed a priority. Job opportunities, for all residents, is unfortunately relatively limited in Haifa. I am planning on getting Haifa acknowledged by the government as a “high interest” region for national investment. This will give me the ability of making Haifa far more attractive to powerful large-scale employers and other employment opportunities. Along with that, promoting by allowing benefits and lowering taxes.
Many of Haifa’s graduates move out of the city as opportunities for start-ups are better in the center of the country. This has caused a large ‘brain-drain’ in Haifa. How do you propose to get entrepreneurs to stay in Haifa or return to Haifa?
Aside from the above, I am planning incentives for academic graduates staying and setting their practice in Haifa. Some of the ideas are; free parking for two years after graduations, tax cuts for business entrepreneurs and establishments. Those issues are now being examined by my team.
Haifa has one of the highest rates of arnona (municipal rates and taxes) in the country. A common complaint amongst Haifa residents, especially in the Hadar neighborhood, is that they are not seeing their arnona being used effectively. Many of Haifa’s streets are in disrepair. There are potholes everywhere on sidewalks too. Does the city really need to spend 30 million shekels on renovating one building in the shuk, or 8 million shekels on a recreation center in Ramat Eshkol? Residents of the Hadar, Halissa area, Shaar HaAliyah and Neve David are feeling left out. Can these millions of shekels not be used more effectively is suburbs that need upgrading?
Arnona – I must say its quite an easy fix. It’s a gradual process, but definitely doable by enforcing non payers, enlarging paying businesses by promoting more businesses in the city and optimizing the existing municipal operations, by doing so lowering expenses and reducing costs.
You are absolutely right. Unfortunately, it seems that a considerable part of Haifa is considered a “back yard” in comparison with some higher, better kept neighborhoods. I am going to change that. Funding will be directed in accordance to a city wide planning, and distributed evenly between the various neighborhoods. We will set our priorities straight. The examples you pointed out are known to me. This is a promise.
The cost of the new cable car from the Lev Hamifratz, via the Technion to The University of Haifa is expected to cost around 300 million shekels. What is the status of that project?
The New Cable Car is another project that will service non Haifa residents more and should be reconsidered.
The Haifa tunnels are considered a ‘white elephant’ by many Haifa residents – it’s just too expensive to use. Even though the toll for using the tunnel came down in price slightly in October, do you think there is room for a further price reduction?
Haifa tunnels is the only municipal toll road in the country and that was a mistake! With the right steps we can begin a process of nationalizing then, making them open to the public. Additionally, I am proud to say that it was during my tenure in the ministry of I have taken part in the process of lowering the tunnels cost as one of the last projects I participated in.
Thank you again for your time. We wish you and all the candidates the best of luck.
We are waiting for the contributions from other candidates and will post them as soon as they are received.
SUNDAY 28.10.18 NEWS FLASH: WE HAVE JUST BEEN ADVISED THAT DAVID ETZIONI HAS JOINED FORCES WITH EINAT ROTEM KALISH