OAKLAND -- The race is on to recall Mayor Jean Quan.

In an opinion released late Monday, City Attorney Barbara Parker wrote that dueling recall campaigns both will be allowed to circulate petitions calling for Quan's ouster. However, only the first campaign to collect the required 19,811 signatures will be considered the valid petition.

"I have no problem with that. If the other group gets it first, that's fine," said Gene Hazzard, a member of the Oakland Black Caucus, who is leading a recall effort that has already qualified to collect signatures.

Greg Harland, a businessman who is leading a second recall campaign, said his group planned to submit its petition to the city this week and begin collecting signatures the first week of January.

Harland, who ran against Quan for mayor last year, said he was concerned that Hazzard's petition could prove vulnerable to a legal challenge.

"This is too important to be done carelessly," he said. "We've already spent a massive amount of money in legal fees."

Two political committees formed to collect money for the Quan recall have not yet reported their campaign finance statements.

Harland said his group also will pay for professional signature gatherers, unlike Hazzard who is relying on volunteers.

Hazzard's group would not say how many signatures it has collected since its petition drive began two weeks ago. It must complete its signature drive by May 14.

The recall campaign splintered early, with the group led by Harland quickly splitting away from Hazzard, and then Harland's group splitting over whether to support Hazzard or start a second petition.

If either recall effort collects enough valid signatures, the Oakland City Council will determine when the recall election would be held.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.