Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker won’t run for re-election

Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker won’t run for re-election

OAKLAND — Barbara Parker, who a decade ago became the first and only Black woman to hold citywide office in Oakland, will not seek re-election as the city attorney.

Parker was appointed as Oakland’s top lawyer in 2011, following 20 years working in the office; she later won election three times, most recently receiving 80% support from voters in 2020.

In a statement, Parker’s representatives cited as her “crowning achievement” the establishment of a new division in the office that pursues matters of public interest, including housing justice, civil rights and environmental work.

The division’s work includes protecting immigrants from predatory forces, targeting removal of toxic paint and shutting down hubs around the city — including illegal massage parlors and hotels — where human trafficking takes place.

“Throughout my tenure, I have been guided by my commitment to maintain the integrity and enhance the diversity of the Office, to provide top notch legal advice and counsel and to fight alongside our progressive City Councils, City Administrators and Mayors for
Oakland,” Parker said in the statement.

“At the end of this term, I will have served as City Attorney for nearly 14 years,” she added. “I am ready to begin a new chapter, and know that I will leave the Office in the hands of our extraordinary, dedicated and superb team.”

Over the past decade, Parker represented the city in its efforts to block shipments of coal through Oakland, its fight against the Warriors over an unpaid debt of $49 million and federal litigation against Wells Fargo for allegedly predatory lending practices.

She has also defended the city in numerous lawsuits. Last year, a jury awarded ex-police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick roughly $337,000 in damages plus legal costs in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

More recently, former Chief LeRonne Armstrong filed lawsuits against the city after he was fired in February.

Amid a drawn-out fight by Caltrans last year to clear what had been the city’s largest homeless encampment, Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to Parker threatening to take back millions of dollars in funding if the city did not find alternative housing and shelter for the residents there.

The encampment’s clearing was ultimately approved by a judge, and the city cleared what was left of the site on Wood Street earlier this year.

Parker has emerged as a well-known and respected elected official in the East Bay. Her legal work before taking office earned her an appointment in 2005 to the State Bar’s Judicial Council, which adopts rules for courts throughout California.

“Throughout my tenure, my North Star has been ensuring Oakland’s progressive laws, the California and U.S. Constitutions and federal and state laws are working for Oaklanders,” Parker said in the statement. “I believe strongly in the principle of leveraging public service
to address inequities.”