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Oakland city attorney in running for top city job

Submitted by on 1, February 25, 2011 – 5:21 pm10 Comments

The Oakland Tribune reported early Friday that Oakland City Attorney John Russo is a finalist for Alameda’s city manager job. The other candidates for the job are Alameda’s former assistant city attorney, David Brandt, and Millbrae City Manager Marcia Raines, a well-placed City Hall source told The Island late Friday.

Russo, who has reportedly had rocky relations with new Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, was a contributor to Marie Gilmore’s mayoral campaign and also the city council campaign of Councilwoman Lena Tam, whose innocence he proclaimed at a fundraiser for Tam shortly after she was accused of leaking confidential information to then-Alameda Point developer SunCal and Alameda’s firefighters.

Brandt was named Redmond, Oregon’s city manager in July 2009. He had worked in Alameda since 1996, serving in the city attorney’s office before becoming assistant city manager in 2006. He has a bachelor’s in economics, a master’s in urban planning and a law degree.

Raines became city manager of Millbrae in January 2009.

The city received 65 applications for the city manager’s job and whittled the list down to six candidates, who the City Council interviewed on Saturday, coming down to three finalists. The finalists will be interviewed by a set of advisory panels before going to back to the council, which hopes to make a decision by the end of March.

The council’s decision on the finalists was unanimous, Mayor Marie Gilmore said. She refused to confirm the names of the finalists late Friday. The council is set to name five people to a community advisory panel on Tuesday.

The council voted, 3-2 on December 28 not to renew Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s contract and to place her on administrative leave until her contract expires, on March 31.


  • Adam Gillitt says:

    This all seems totally above board and ethical. I always donate money to my prospective employers, especially right after they’ve been accused of breaking the law. Of course, I’m not as intimately familiar with the law as an Oakland City Attorney, but I am equally as unqualified to manage a city as Mr. Russo. Bravo Marie, Lena and Rob, you’re really gaining back the City’s trust, just like you promised.

  • helen Sause says:

    Helen Sause says..
    February 26, 2011

    City Council: Very transparent process and 3 interesting condidates, well done. And do remember no matter how hard your try, someone will manage to find a snarky innuendo with which they try to distract people rather than focussing on the real issue i.e. which is the best fit for Alameda. The council has had most time with all three candidates and I am sure,with input, from the advisory groups,will make the right decision. helen sause

  • Jon Spangler says:

    I find it interesting that the names of the three finalists have been leaked, which is relatively normal.

    John Russo is highly intelligent and knows Alameda well. he is also very strong on sunshine laws, transparency, and government accountability. He may be controversial, but that is not necessarily a sin….

    I know and like David Brandt. He certainly knows Alameda Point inside out and is well liked and respected in Alameda already. There are real advantages to having someone with Alameda governmental experience become the new City Manager.

    I do not know anything about Marcia Raines, but – unlike one previous commenter here – I trust that our City Council members can and will make a wise choice….

  • Vince McDonough says:

    David Brandt is the most well rounded of the candidates from my perspective. He is very commited to an ethical and transparent approach to the job.

  • Isla2663 says:

    I should think any city council member who received funds from a candidate would have to recuse themselves from the vote. And that one council member alone cannot select a city manager.

    And I also assume that the recommendations from the advisory panel will be public.

  • Oaklandish says:

    Russo may be a better fit in Alameda. He has worn out his welcome in Oakland. That said, each of our cities requires something different. When Dennis Chaconas was superintendent of Alameda schools, he had considerable success; not so much in Oakland. Russo doesn’t work with the pluralistic, multicultural, left-leaning Oakland crowd. Maybe you guys can handle his brashness, and appreciate his political sensibilities?

  • Denise Shelton says:

    Does anyone know how the members of the community advisory panel are chosen?

  • Karen Bey says:

    I like both David Brandt and John Russo. Would like to learn more about their leadership skills, and definately would want to learn know more about their experience in finance and redevelopment — but these are great candidates to choose from.

  • K Sanderberg says:

    Brandt’s redevelopment experience didn’t serve Alameda at all over the last decade. Nor did his legal background. Brandt=status quo. Alamedans deserve so much more after suffering through the last two regimes. Jim Flint pushed his agenda (with his “me too” clause) for public safety retirement benefits that have nearly bankrupted the City. Raines’ behavior smacks heavily of Debra Kurita’s tenure: Kurita negotiated a contract that ensured she would make 6% over the highest paid employee. (Raines was guaranteed 10% above in Half Moon Bay.) Kurita hired Tibbet as Chief of Police at a higher salary than the previous chief and VOILA! she automatically received a 6% raise. Enough of the talk of “transparency” and “due diligence.” If you want to know what has been wrong with Alameda government for the last decade, ask the employees.

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