Former San Fernando City Mayor and Councilmember Brenda Esqueda Perez’s attempt to return to city government as a member of the Planning and Preservation Commission was completely rejected at the City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 5.
Councilmember Jaime Soto attempted to nominate Esqueda Perez during the meeting, but he could not get a second to his nomination from the other council members, much less a vote.
The Council did approve Soto’s nominations of Jennifer Perez Helliwell (Esqueda Perez’s daughter) to the Transportation and Safety Commission, and Anna M. Lopez to the Parks Wellness and Recreation Commission.
But Soto’s attempt to nominate Esqueda Perez fell on deaf ears.
During his nomination, Soto said he had “thoroughly examined several people, including these candidates” for the appointments. And he was careful not to use Esqueda’s married name, referring to her by her maiden name of Brenda Perez.
But the memory of Esqueda Perez’s recall from office in the 2012 election (along with former Mayor Mario Hernandez and Councilmember Maribel De La Torre, although Hernandez had already resigned) remains fresh for many residents.
SFPD Sgt. Irwin Rosenberg, speaking during the public comment segment of the meeting as a representative of the San Fernando Peace Officers Association, told the council it should oppose the appointment of Esqueda Perez and Perez Helliwell as commissioners.
“The voters of this city removed Ms. [Brenda] Perez from office in 2012 with a voter turnout of almost 70 percent. And almost 86 percent of those voters voted to recall her from office,” said Rosenberg, who accused Esqueda Perez of “being an embarrassment” and helping drive the City toward bankruptcy.
“It was a clear referendum on removing her from office and never wanting her back,” Rosenberg continued. “It’s unfortunate that Councilmember Soto insists on looking back to the past for poor leadership and representation rather than the future, and to the many qualified people in the city to represent the people’s interests. It is also very unfortunate he chooses to ignore the wishes of the people of this great city and respect the democratic process.”
Soto lashed back at Rosenberg during council discussion, saying it was “highly inappropriate” for the council to base it’s decision on “one malignant officer who continues to come in here and try to bully me, and make my job has hard as possible.”
“It’s a shame the Chief (Tony Vairo) has not reined him in,” Soto said, adding that Rosenberg “has intimidated members of the council and coerced you into making these decisions to block any kind of progress that I have [made].”
But no council member offered any support for the nomination during the discussion period.
Regarding Perez Helliwell’s appointment, Vice Mayor Joel Fajardo noted, “I don’t think that we should hold people liable for the actions of their parents if they have demonstrated they are responsible for their own actions.”