San Francisco to boot elections director after 20-year career so city takes ‘action’ on ‘racial equity plan’

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The San Francisco Election Commission has voted not to renew its election director’s contract despite his successful 20-year record so the city can “take action” on its “racial equity plan.”

In a 4-2 vote by the commission last week, city officials decided not to renew the contract of John Arntz — who is White — for a fifth five-year contract despite strong approval of his tenure as elections director — a move that quickly drew condemnation.

“We are deeply concerned that the Election Commission is actively seeking to remove John Arntz from his job as Director of Elections,” Division Manager Mayank Patel said. said in an email to the department, That included a letter signed by 11 division managers explaining why they supported Arntz’s tenure renewal.

The Department of Elections looks on as early voting continues for the October 28, 2022 “Consolidated General Election” at City Hall in San Francisco.
(Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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“Under Director Arntz’s leadership, our department has successfully conducted more than thirty public elections and rebuilt public confidence in the City’s election process from the ground up,” he added. “We have all worked with Director Arntz and know that with his experienced and proven leadership, we will continue to provide excellent service to the voters of the city while fulfilling our mission of conducting free, fair and efficient elections for many years to come.”

Commission officials wanted to reassure Arntz that the decision to remove him from the top job was not a review of his tenure, but a decision that came down to issues of racial equity.

“Our decision was not about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the city’s racial equity plan and give people the opportunity to compete for leadership positions,” commission president Chris Jerdonek wrote in an email to Arntz, according to various local news outlets.

A voting sign is seen outside San Francisco City Hall as early voting continues for the October 28, 2022 “consolidated general election.”
(Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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City Attorney David Chew said he was “dismayed” by the commission’s decision and suggested that “some people have forgotten the history of this department.”

“Before Director Arntz, we had five directors in so many years, ballot boxes were floating in the bay and there was a severe lack of confidence in city elections,” he added.

Another official, District 2 Supervisor Kathryn Stefani, took to Twitter this week to call the decision “a dereliction of duty by the commission.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a briefing outside San Francisco City Hall on Dec. 1, 2021.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a briefing outside San Francisco City Hall on Dec. 1, 2021.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also objected to the commission’s vote, saying, “John Arntz has served San Francisco with integrity, professionalism and has remained completely independent.”

“He was unbiased and avoided getting caught in the web of City politics, which we are seeing now as a result of this unnecessary vote,” he added, as reported by Mission Local. “Instead of working on key issues to restore and rebuild our city, this is a good example of the unfair politicization of a key part of our government that is doing good for the voters of this city.”

Arntz’s contract expires in May 2023, though he may choose to reapply for the job.

LBL could not immediately reach the commission for comment.

San Francisco to boot elections director after 20-year career so city takes ‘action’ on ‘racial equity plan’

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