City of LIvermore

After interviewing five candidates, the Livermore City Council this week selected two planning commissioners to fill its vacant seats.

Evan Branning was selected for the unexpired term ending March 1, 2023. Daniel Leary was selected for the regular term, which expires March 1, 2025. Both selections passed unanimously.

The other candidates who interviewed for the positions on the five-member planning commission included Stephen “Matt” Gilbert, Erik Bjorklund and Neal Pann. Applicant Farzdeep Singh, whose name appeared on the agenda before the special meeting, had withdrawn.

Branning was selected first when the entire council — with the exception of Vice Mayor Trish Munro — selected him as the first choice for the unexpired term.

Munro had selected Branning as her first choice for the regular term. She then made the motion to select Leary for the remaining seat.

“What particularly impressed me about Mr. Leary was the explanations along the way — the clear discussion of how to think about parking garages and how to think about going forward with not only a parking garage is important, but how that then shapes the way you think about other areas of downtown and other modes of transportation,” Munro continued.

Before making its decision on who would serve in the regular term, the council discussed the remaining candidates. Munro encouraged Gilbert, a systems analyst, to apply for another advisory body. She called Pann’s architectural experience “terribly important” in the city, but she didn’t think it was enough to compensate for the breadth of some of the other candidates.

Councilmember Robert Carling considered the makeup of the five people, noting that three people were more “technically minded” in terms of their training. Looking at that makeup after the board selected Branning, he said he wanted another technical voice. Carling had voted for Leary as his first choice on the regular term and Branning as his second. He said he thought Leary would bring experience and a fresh approach to the commission.

For her first choice on the regular term, Councilmember Gina Bonanno had voted for Bjorklund, followed by Leary. She noted that she had served with Bjorklund for six years when she was a planning commissioner. As someone who saw him in the position, she said he had a calm demeanor and the ability to add value to the conversation. But as she was also impressed by Leary, Bonanno said she supported moving forward with him.

Councilmember Brittni Kiick said that while she saw the value of Bjorklund’s service in the community as an experienced planning commissioner, she also saw the value of bringing in new voices. She pointed out that Bjorklund often had to be recused, which is why she saw him as an important community member but no longer as a seated member. The council works with his firm, TJKM Transportation Consultants, on an ongoing basis.

Woerner had selected Bjorklund as his first choice for the regular term.

“This has been one of the hardest selection processes that we’ve gone through, because everyone is really qualified,” Woerner said. “As you can see, I selected Daniel Leary as the second position, so I see which way this is going, and I'm very content with the outcome.”