Complaining is easy, but having an impact is even easier." This is the slogan of the Interior Ministry encouraging people to vote and it was the message of Tuesday night's English panel in Modiin.
On October 8th, ModiInfo hosted the city's only opportunity to hear the candidates for the next elections in English where nine of the parties running were represented on the panel which answered questions to a packed audience. Caryn Meltz opened the evening by thanking both the candidates and English speakers for coming and acknowledging that, regardless of their positions, all the candidates have volunteered countless hours on behalf of the city.
The questions were a compilation of feedback from ModiInfo readers about what's most important to them. They touched on topics such as education, safety, urban planning and the environment. Some of the candidates spoke in English and others took advantage of the superb translating skills of Elie Sprung who was on hand to bridge the language gap between residents and candidates. Even after the panel officially ended, many residents approached candidates to speak to them directly.
Of the nine parties present, four were represented by the first in line on their ticket (Moish Levy - Shachar Osim Chinuch; Alex Weinreb - Haderech Lehaspiya; Shahar Mey-On - Yesh Atid; Baruch Bochnik - Gesher) while five were represented by their second or third seat (Arthur Korol - Modiin Shel Kulanu; Gabi Edri - Ilan LeModiin; Shlomo Pazzy - Haim BeModiin; Jonny Cline - HaBayit HaYehudi; Naama Safrai Cohen - HaBayit Shelanu).
Naama was the only woman sitting on the panel although most of the other parties do have women on their tickets. Candidates did a good job answering questions in the short ninety seconds allotted to them. Things got heated at one point when a discussion about the Matnas's connection to the high cost of chugim was disputed between the candidates.
All the candidates agreed that class size should be smaller and education should be improved but few gave specific details as to how they would achieve such lofty goals.
An important point articulated by the candidates is that the original plans for Modiin were devised by Misrad Hashikun prior to residents moving in and contain flaws only recognized as the city flourished. Moving forward, the Modiin municipality will have control over plans and can accommodate residents' needs accordingly.
The audience was made up mostly of Modiin's older residents who represent a minority of the Modiin population. Interestingly, the younger parents of children and teens were largely absent even though the topics discussed included education, high chugim costs, parks and other areas most relevant to their lives. It is difficult to say whether their weak turnout is the result of apathy or overall satisfaction with Modiin.
The Modiin election, as compared to the municipal elections of places like Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, is viewed as relatively irrelevant. Mayor Bibas is predicted to win by a landslide. Many Anglos are simply ignorant as to how the system works. Coming out to vote for city council is also of great importance.
ModiInfo has worked hard to educate English speakers and expose them to the party platforms so they can make an informed decision come Election Day. Now taking the time go out and actually cast their vote is up to them.