There are two serious contenders in the Nov. 6 election who want to run the Oakland City Attorney's Office:

  • Lawyer Barbara Parker has worked in the office for 20 years, including 10 years as chief assistant. Last year, when John Russo resigned as city attorney, Parker was appointed to the top post.

  • Jane Brunner, a labor and civil rights attorney, has served on the City Council for 20 years.

    Oakland's city attorney must provide objective legal advice to city employees and officials, sometimes issuing politically unpopular analyses and recommendations. For this critical position, we see no reason to replace a seasoned professional with a politician.

    The campaign itself is Exhibit A. Brunner has leveled charges against Parker about the size of the office's budget using numbers that were set before Parker took office. She has criticized Parker for advice on litigation that, before last year, was the purview of another top assistant.

    Brunner's complaints seem to be election-season posturing. She flat-out says the office should be political. We disagree. Although the city attorney is an elected post in Oakland, the officeholder should be a professional first and foremost.

    It's too early to judge the Parker tenure, but what we see so far we like. She has made strides to depoliticize the city attorney's office and turn attention back to its core mission. She has reorganized the office and taken steps to control costs.


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    The choice is clear. Parker deserves a full term.