Mayor Ron Huldai

Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo & Chair of the Tel Aviv Foundation

Speaker: The Mayors: Smart Cities, Urban Security, Community Building and Social Capital

Ron Huldai was elected for his fifth consecutive five-year term as Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo on October 30, 2018.  Mayor Huldai's most important goal has been to maintain Tel Aviv-Yafo as a bastion of the cherished values of tolerance, acceptance, diversity and democracy. To this end, he has actively promoted policies and budgets to support the various groups that reside in the city. These include: ensuring Affirmative Action for minority employees in the Municipality; establishing a municipal center for the LGBT community; building and financing of facilities of Special Education facilities to serve children from dozens of municipalities across the country; upgrading services to Holocaust survivors; proving far-reaching extensive welfare programs; and more. 

Thanks to Mayor Huldai's long-term economic vision for Tel Aviv-Yafo, it has positioned itself as a global center of innovation and creativity. Under his leadership, Tel Aviv-Yafo has become known as "the Startup City of the Startup Nation". The city boasts more technological startups per capita than any other city in the world – 1,700 at any given moment. The city also boasts the highest density of accelerators in the world, numerous top-ranking research universities and R&D centers for global enterprises.

Mayor Huldai’s administration has had had a demonstrable impact on the city. Among his many accomplishments, Mayor Huldai has eliminated the municipal deficit. For the past 20 years, he has maintained a balanced budget while completely transforming the city's infrastructure, public sphere, and municipal institutions. In light of this economic turn-around, Standard and Poor’s has awarded the city with the coveted AAA Stable rating. The Mayor has also further positioned the city as the major cultural center of Israel, upgrading dozens of cultural and historic assets. The city received international recognition in 2003 when UNESCO proclaimed it a World Heritage Site. In 2014. UNESCO acclaimed Tel Aviv a Creative City for its excellence in digital media activity.

Mayor Huldai has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the local residents. Much emphasis has been placed on returning the public sphere to the residents, with creation of over 120 kilometers of bike trails, 14 kilometers of beachfront boardwalk and renovation of many of the city’s historical assets. During Huldai’s tenure, the city’s population increased by more than 10% after four decades of negative growth. One demographic in particular that has increased is that of young people, which doubled since Huldai took office. Today, one of every three residents is between the ages of 18 and 35.

Of special note is Mayor Huldai’s increased allocation of budgetary funds to improve the living conditions and infrastructure of the lower-income areas in the south. He has also provided funding to build and improve schools and community centers, and expand services, making a lower-income neighborhoods a budgetary priority.

This is especially true for Yafo (Jaffa) where the Mayor has improved the infrastructure, living conditions and the social fabric of this part of the city. With a $250M investment over the past decade, great progress has been made. These include: the restoration of the tourism complex – including the historic port and market, creating a massive waterfront park with an unprecedented use of recycled materials and substantial upgrades to the educational system, including the new Academic College of Yafo.

Under Mayor Huldai's tenure, Tel Aviv-Yafo has truly become a global city, which has further developed and enhanced its broad international activity in numerous fields. In addition, in recent years, Tel Aviv-Yafo joined many city networks worldwide that exchange know-how, such as C40 for climate change; 100 Resilient Cities; OECD's Inclusive Growth; the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, U20, to name a few. Tel Aviv-Yafo has also been awarded international recognition in almost every sphere.