Op-Ed: Interview: Efrat Mayoral Candidate Oded Revivi
Oded Revivi, the incumbent mayor of Efrat (or Efrata) in Gush Etzion,who is running for election against two other local candidates (Dovi Shefler and Michael Dahan, see link below) talked to Arutz Sheva about the town he loves and hopes to continue developing during another term of office.
Revivi has lived in Efrat since 1994, when he moved after gaining a law degree in the UK and where he met his wife. Born in Ramat Gan in 1969, he spent two periods overseas as a youngster with his parents, so that his English is effortless, an important plus in this Anglo-Israeli community, but was back in time to complete his high school studies in Himmelfarb religious high school. He ended his army service with the rank of company commander and now, the eldest of his six children is a soldier.
A7: What do you consider your main accomplishments as mayor?
Revivi: I would like to give two examples, although there are many, that I feel especially good about:
The first thing I did five years ago was to create a completely new organizational plan where each department compares goals, budget and accomplishments in a documented, organized manner. After visiting us four years ago, the plan was adopted by the Interior Ministry as a model plan that is mandatory for other municipalities, if they wish to apply for the yearly municipal administration award for best-run municipality.
Our department heads learned to find the funding for the projects they wished to promote and that made our non-deficit budget grow from 40m. IS to 65 m. IS, all invested in Efrat.
We also decided to meet the challenge of education head-on with programs and follow-up for all our youth and invested in it accordingly. There are no youngsters in Efrat today without an educational framework, absolutely no dropouts because of all our new educational possibilities, the vacation activities are so varied that there is something for everyone. We have had no minors who committed crimes or acts of vandalism for years .
A7: What are some of your goals if re-elected?
Revivi: The challenges that I hope to tackle are first and foremost, population growth. We are well on the way - after much efforts during the sometimes hidden and sometimes obvious building freeze of the last few years, we have over 500 new living units almost ready and hundreds more on the way, which will add thousands of residents to the community. That will bring new families to Efrat and spur even greater growth of schools and other services, which we are already preparing so as to greet the newcomers with joy.
We want to create a program for young adults 18-30 or so, that will help to better prepare them for future challenges: help with choice of career and training, educational options, how to run a budget, build a family and more.
At the same time, we are going to invest in working on keeping our senior citizens here; at present there are around 600 senior citizens who have spent many years here and we expect that to double, please G-d, in 5 years. We want them to stay and are preparing suitable programs and activities that will add to the quality of senior citizen life here, possibilities for smaller homes in the new units being built and more.
A7: Why should someone want to live in Efrat?
Revivi: It's a wonderful place to live. The combination of Anglos who hardly speak Hebrew (when they arrive, at least) and native-born Israelis is really special. We are a religious community by a vast majority, but a non-coercive one; for example, the roads are open on Shabbat. It's a warm, attractive and hospitable place to live, with a great sense of community, an excellent educational system and so many other services – that, in fact, the quality of life here is hard to beat.
A7: What about security?
Revivi: We have an advanced virtual fence, a system of cameras that surround the community and report to our security center 24/7 about anyone approaching the community from a far off distance. Nothing has gotten by them and there are attempts every few months. Other places are using our model to enhance their own security.
Crime? In the five years I have been mayor, there were two break-ins; one tractor, one car and one motorcycle were stolen. That's it.
A7: Do you have the same enthusiasm for this difficult job that you had 5 years ago?
Revivi: I first ran for mayor when I had a successful law practice and decided that I wanted to dedicate my energies to the place in which I am raising my family. I feel a great deal of satisfaction, but also a real desire to do more, because the challenges are always exciting and there is always a lot to look forward to in a dynamic, growing community like Efrat.
Arutz Sheva notes: Also running for the mayoralty of Efrat is Dovi Schefler, a current Efrat council member, and Michael Dahan.