Below is the third in a series of interviews with Oakland mayoral candidates. Today is current Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker.
BW: Why are you running for mayor of Oakland?
BP: "First and foremost, I'm a resident of Oakland, I love this community, it is where I'm going to raise my family. Oakland, while still maintaining its roots and grand identity of diversity and resilience, can offer a richer set of economic and educational opportunities that's a lot safer. To achieve that you need someone with a proven background in managing large enterprises, has experience with economic development and adding jobs. From a capabilities perspective, I am best suited to do that."
BW: What is it about your professional background that leads you to conclude it transfers to City Hall?
BP: "I have spent time as an attorney in California and New York, 10 years in finance, and the last 10 years running organizations. If you look at what I've done in the last 5 years, I was general manager of a division of a large health care company and grew that from $400 million to $800 million in revenue. The charter of the city of Oakland says the mayor is to be the CEO of the city. I am the only one running who has managed at that size and scale. We must grow our economy, I've proven that; we must add jobs, and I've proven that. For those who wish to suggest that my experience is primarily in the private sector, I would offer two additional experiences. I chaired the Workforce Investment board (which oversees federally funded employment and training programs and services in Oakland). It was a 50-person board comprised of labor, public and private sector. And currently serve as Port Commissioner, the city's largest economic engine. I know how to count votes to get things passed, how to build consensus and to be pragmatic."
BW: What should residents of Oakland realistically expect from its mayor?
BP: "The people of Oakland should expect that they have a leader, someone who represents their interest in all aspects. They should expect a pragmatist who can build coalitions and bring people together. They should expect a mayor who would be a listener so that a shared vision for the city can be created. They should expect a mayor who can build and grow the economy. Finally, they should expect a leader who takes safety seriously, but realizes it is a leadership concept that includes police and the community; and know safety is not just about more cops, but also about cleaner neighborhoods, its about education, and about providing individuals with economic opportunities."
BW: What would you do differently?
BP: "I would be more fiscally disciplined. I would take head-on some of the difficulties that are currently on the balance sheets, making sure that we are not consuming things that will burden future generations. I will make sure businesses and new jobs are greater than the businesses and jobs that are leaving Oakland. Having a closer relationship with the Oakland Unified School District is paramount. I will also reach out to the business community to make sure that our learning is congruent with the jobs that will be available and apply innovation to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. And I will maintain a focus on the African American male. That 50 percent of African American males don't graduate or are shot in Oakland is unacceptable."
BW: Everyone in the race is making public safety a priority. How are you defining public safety?
BP: "Public Safety is both the seen and unseen. I lost a sister to murder, and we see young people being gunned down by that type of violence on a weekly basis. Advocating for policies that can reduce crime are the tangible metrics. But there are nontraditional metrics that must also be factored. Clean neighborhoods, for example. Cleaner neighborhoods are safer neighborhoods. And we must address all aspects of mental health."
Byron Williams is a contributing columnist. Contact him at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.