Commission appointment another controversy in Daly City race

The appointment of a Daly City Council candidate to a city commission has sparked protests from others running for three available seats this November.

Mayor Mike Guingona and Council Members Carol Klatt and Sal Torres appointed council candidate Leah Berlanga to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Aug. 18. Fifty-year-old insurance agent Addeman Angeles said that the council members, who support Berlanga’s campaign, were giving her an unfair advantage in the race.

“It’s an added feather in her hat,” Angeles said.

Berlanga, who served previously on the city’s Planning Commission, would be required to resign her commission seat if she won a spot on the council.

When Berlanga — who has received media attention recently because she is running against her ex-husband and council candidate, Frank Berlanga — was nominated, Councilmembers Maggie Gomez and Judith Christensen protested the appointment. They said the council came to an unofficial agreement nearly a year ago not to allow commission members to run for city councilwhile holding a seat.

Berlanga said as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner, she was focused on Parks for the Future, a countywide bond to improve facilities, and starting the “Friends of Daly City Parks,” a nonprofit group to help raise money for the city’s parks.

“I think people should look at who’s having issues with my appointment,” Berlanga said.

Gomez is running for reelection and did not receive the endorsement of colleagues Guingona or Klatt. Christensen supports the campaign of Jefferson Elementary School Board member Annette Hipona and has been linked to the campaign of Frank Berlanga.

Gomez said her opposition to the appointment had nothing to do with Berlanga specifically but what she called a “vote” at a council retreat last year not to allow commission members to run for city council.

“I voted ‘no’ (against Berlanga) because I believe in sticking to the rules and regulations that we voted on as a team,” Gomez said.

Guingona said he remembered having a discussion about the issue at the retreat but nothing more. He said he voted in favor of Berlanga’s

appointment out of respect for Torres.

Guingona added that he wouldn’t have nominated a council candidate to a commission seat if it were left up to him. Before the 1998 election, he moved to remove Planning Commission member Cesar Alegria, whose appointment he had supported, from the commission after Alegria announced a run for office against him.

dsmith@examiner.com

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