Brendan P. Bartholomew/Special to The S.F. ExaminerCity Councilwoman Judith Christensen says Daly City should adopt new regulations that allows the longest-serving council member who hasn’t been mayor to take the post.

Buenaventura pledges to unite council in return to Daly City mayor’s seat

Ray Buenaventura has been appointed to a second term as Daly City's mayor, pledging to unite a City Council that has engaged in disputes including the very process that selected him mayor.

Buenaventura, who was re-elected to the council in November, was chosen for the mayoral position in a 3-2 vote Tuesday. Re-elected Councilman Mike Guingona and newly elected Councilwoman Judith Christensen, who both called for changes in how the mayor is chosen, dissented.

The choice of vice mayor was not controversial, with Councilman Sal Torres being the sole nominee.

Daly City operates under the council-manager form of government, in which the unelected city manager is the town's chief executive officer and the position of mayor is largely ceremonial. Unlike many cities that have fixed schedules for rotating council members into the mayor's role, Daly City has relied on a less formal model, in which council members can be nominated to serve as mayor in no particular order during the reorganization process. The council members then select the mayor with a vote.

Christensen argued that the council should adopt a standard rotation schedule to determine who would be mayor, a sentiment with which Guingona agreed. While Buenaventura most recently served as mayor one year ago, under Christensen's proposed rotation schedule, the member who has served the longest without being mayor would be next in line for the position, regardless of nomination.

“We would avoid all this strife by having a structured process,” Christensen suggested.

During Canepa's 12 months as mayor, Guingona frequently clashed with him on issues ranging from proposed city laws to points of parliamentary procedure. In an oblique but clear reference to the acrimony that has occurred between some council members, Buenaventura said, “We are all better off if we are united and not divided.”

The new mayor continued: “United does not mean we all agree, but divided does mean we can't talk to each other. I will try to unite us.”

Canepa also adopted a conciliatory tone on the issue, calling Guingona “an institution in this city.”

Referring to his often-strained working relationship with Guingona, Canepa said, “Hopefully we can move this thing forward.”

Torres praised the outgoing mayor for getting Daly City through “a very difficult year,” during which the town faced “one of its worst fiscal challenges” in years. Buenaventura noted that Canepa took pride in being mayor, brought boundless energy to the job, and accomplished a lot during his one-year term.

Christensen, who previously served on the council from 2004 to 2008 and then lost a bid for re-election, got a big laugh from the audience when she paid tribute to Canepa by saying, “We ran against each other [in 2008] and he whipped my ass!”

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