Prior to the 1963 municipal elections in Beersheba, the leadership of Mapai chose Nawi to head the party's electoral list in Beersheba. Nawi was chosen both for his formal education and his Iraqi descent, important in light of ethnic tensions in the city at the time. During his election campaign, Nawi rejected the notion that he was chosen for his ethnic background, but twelve years later wrote that this had been in fact the reason. In the election, held on August 28, 1963, Nawi won against David Hakham, then deputy mayor and himself a former Mapai member, and Ze'ev Zrizi of Mapam. Nawi continued his tenure until 1986. During most of his tenure, Ze'ev Zrizi served as his deputy.
Meir-Glitzenstein, Esther (2009). Tzameret, Tzvi; Halamish, Aviva; Meir-Glitzenstein, Esther, ed. The Development Towns. Idan Series, Vol. 24 (in Hebrew). Yad Ben Tzvi Publishing. ISBN978-965-217-298-3.