Berlanga denies allegations of abuse

Frank Berlanga, the missing man so far in the Daly City Council race, denied all allegations that he was acting as a spoiler to his ex-wife and fellow candidate Leah Berlanga.

In an increasingly heated race thanks to the rivaling political influences in the largest city on the Peninsula, Frank Berlanga, a 53-year-old general contractor, said that those calling him a spoiler in the race were “playing dumb” because he took out intent to run papers from the city in June 2005, well before others, including his ex-wife.

There are seven candidates running for three seats — a majority — on the City Council, and all three incumbents filed for reelection. Mayor Mike Guingona and Councilmembers Carol Klatt and Maggie Gomez are up for reelection against Jefferson School Board Member Annette Hipona, insurance broker Ademan Angeles, Frank Berlanga and Leah Berlanga.

On Aug. 14, Berlanga’s ex-wife Leah, 43, held a news conference and, backed by members of the Domestic Violence Survivors Network, announced her candidacy in an attempt to separate her campaign from her husband’s. At that time, she said his candidacy came as a shock given his recent legal troubles. She also alleged physical and mental abuse during their 16-year marriage.

At the news conference, she suggested that political rivals put him up to the task in an effort to divert votes from her campaign.

Frank Berlanga was unavailable for comment at the time of the news conference because he was in jail on charges of violating probation.

In January 2006, a jury convicted Frank Berlanga of violating a 2004 restraining order against Leah when he left notes perceived as threatening at her home in March 2005. He was placed on two years supervised probation. Frank Berlanga was arrested Aug. 11 for violating that probation June 6.

Frank Berlanga accused his ex-wife of taking advantage of the legal system in acquiring the restraining order against him and denied any allegations of physical or emotional abuse.

“When a woman uses that legal system to cry wolf, she puts her heel on the neck of women that really have been battered and abused,” Frank said.

He is due back in court Oct. 31, exactly one week before the November 7 election.

Court documents show Daly City police reports indicating a turbulent relationship between the two, but no charges have ever been filed.

The couple was voted Daly City Citizens of the Year in 2000 before divorcing in 2004.

Frank Berlanga said he was running because the city is ill-prepared for a major disaster and also to cut down on bureaucratic red tape in thecity’s building department.

“It’s moneymaking for [the city] but it’s very discouraging for homeowners whose money is tight,” he said.

Leah Berlanga refused to respond to her ex-husband’s talk.

“I’m not going to comment on any other candidate, whoever it is,” she said. “This is a campaign. This is not personal.”