Culver City’s New Attorney – Heather Baker

The Culver City city council confirmed Heather Baker’s appointment as the City Attorney at the October 25, 2021 meeting, by unanimous vote. 

When long time City Attorney Carol Schwab retired after 32 years of legal work for the city, the city council chose her successor from the department. Giving the desk to someone already familiar with the cases in progress was almost an exact reflection of how Schwab had been given the position decades ago. While the pandemic gave an added emphasis to the city’s ‘promote from within’ policy, sometimes the best choice is also the obvious one for the job. 

Baker has been practicing municipal law for over 23 years, 20 of which have been with the City of Culver City. She has served as Culver City’s Assistant City Attorney since 2007, prior to which she served as a Deputy City Attorney.

In addition to providing general legal advice, Heather has served as the legal advisor to the Planning Commission since 2007, and to other Commissions and City Council Subcommittees over the years.

Baker herself was surprised as much as pleased by the appointment. “It’s a big step up, and, honestly, I was not really expecting it. I’m still a bit overwhelmed, ” Baker said on a phone call in early November. “I’m happy, of course, to be promoted. But really, I’m still kind of letting it sink in.” 

Baker received all her education in California, getting her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Juris Doctor from Western State University, College of Law (currently Western State College of Law) in Irvine.

Her predecessor Carol Schwab had offered as a part of her farewell address that “I think Culver City is a model of modern workplace opportunities… I think there’s no better legal job than being a city attorney. Imagine being able to work through issues pertaining to the first amendment, sustainability, land use, and employment, all in one week.”

Baker was equally enthused. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of interesting work, a lot of important work.” Whatever legal challenges the city is facing, they have a very experienced attorney who knows the landscape. “I love my job, and I am truly honored and excited to work with and serve the incredible people that comprise the City government and community, alongside my stellar City Attorney Department team.” 

Baker is currently serving as Acting City Attorney, with her official appointment to City Attorney to begin on December 22.

Judith Martin-Straw

Photo credit – Heather Baker

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