LANDSLIDE VICTORY FOR ARIEL MAYOR
Even when the incumbent is as popular as Ariel Mayor, Ron Nachman, small
town elections are never a quiet affair. In a town of 13,500 people, there are
varied opinions and thousands of issues, both personal and ideological.
Israelis relate to all politics with intense passion. When the politics concern their own
and perhaps the borders of their country - their involvement becomes complete.
Recent municipal elections in Ariel presented the city's residents with two
candidates for mayor and five separate lists for the 11 city council seats.
Electioneering in Ariel is at its best on the Friday mornings during the
last weeks before election day. Most of the town finds its way to
the city's shopping center to take care of last minute purchases before the
Sabbath. And so, candidates make it their business to be visible. This
inevitably leads to the time-honored tradition of election debate in Israel.
As candidates stroll through the center, surrounded by their most ardent
followers, political differences quickly turn into heated shouting matches. Of
course, anyone who has witnessed the Israeli Knesset in session knows this is
not unique to Ariel.
Though public debating may not be the Israeli way, during the course of
the campaign, each candidate meets with potential supporters in parlor
meetings arranged according to neighborhood or sometimes -- particularly since
the great Aliyah -- according to language. Meetings like this are generally
well attended for here is the citizen's chance to voice any and all
grievances, even if it has little to do with the municipality.
Incumbent Mayor Ron Nachman, running on the Likud ticket, had the full
support of the Party. Two days before the elections, Likud Party Chairman,
Benjamin Netanyahu and a full array of Knesset Members, mayors and community
leaders came to Ariel in a show of support for Nachman. Netanyahu told the
crowd of over a thousand "Arielites" gathered to hear him speak that the
elections in Ariel were not only important for the community but had national
significance, as well. "They would," he said, "be the first shot fired in the
Likud's battle to bring the current government down in national elections in
Election day itself passed fairly quietly. Because of the intense heat
wave that struck the Samarian hills on election day, most of the voters came
out only once the sun went down, creating long lines at the polls during the
last few hours. Though polls were scheduled to close at 10:00 p.m., Ministry
of Interior officials allowed anyone in line at that time to vote. The last
poll finally closed just short of midnight.
By that time, hundreds of Nachman supporters were gathered in the main
shopping center, waiting for election results. As the results at each poll
were finalized, a runner would come to Nachman with the results. Though he had
always been viewed as the sure winner of the elections, even the incumbent
mayor was pleasantly surprised by the landslide numbers. It only remained to
be seen how many of his slate would win seats on the City Council.
The final results were almost unprecedented for elections of this kind in
Israel. Ron Nachman received an overwhelming vote of confidence, winning the
mayoral election with an 85% majority. Apparently, ten years of constant
accomplishment, even in the most difficult of circumstances does not go
unnoticed. Not only has Ariel's population increased tenfold during the decade
in which Ron Nachman has served as Ariel's mayor, but the number of services
and facilities so vital to the quality of life in the community have
consistently grown and improved.
Nachman's list for city council, the "Lev" list, also met with resounding
success. Of the 11 seats available on the council, "Lev" won 8, with one seat
each of three
other competitive lists. Of the eight members of Lev elected, three have
served on the previous council, bringing with them 10 years experience of
voluntary public service.
The election results bear more than merely good tidings for Ariel for they
carry ramifications of national significance. Detractors of the fledgling city
have often portrayed the people of Ariel as devoid of ideology, people
concerned only with their own welfare, indifferent to the fate of the national
camp of Israel. Nachman, however, is perceived as the only authentic Knesset
representative of the needs and rights of the people of Judea, Samaria & Gaza,
a visionary who has not only built Ariel from scratch but has used his Knesset
seat to fight for retaining all of Israel, a Jewish Homeland with safe and
secure borders. In their overwhelming show of support for Nachman, the people
of Ariel have sent a message to all of Israel that they are deeply committed
to the continued development of Ariel, the capital of Samaria and a strategic
asset vital to the security of Israel.
In an open letter to the residents following the elections, Ron Nachman
sent the following message: "Elections are now behind us but the future lies
ahead. What we, the people of Ariel, have done in the 16 years since Ariel was
founded is truly astonishing. Every visitor to our city is overwhelmed by our
"Despite the difficulties before us, we have a national responsibility to
continue to strengthen Ariel, both physically and spiritually, through
building and development and through the fostering of Jewish values, Zionism
and the love of the land and the Torah.
"We will continue to absorb new immigrants and to attract young Israeli
families. We will continue to be the flagship of the settlement movement in
Judea and Samaria. And I am confident that we will succeed in our struggle for
our way is right and is the only way to ensure the security of our homeland."
For the next five years, the people of Ariel can be assured of dynamic and
hard-working leadership, with Ron Nachman at the helm. Nachman will not only
continue to work tirelessly for the people of Ariel but will continue to
represent them and their neighboring communities in the Israeli Knesset.
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