Last week, the San Francisco elections board voted not to renew director John Arntz’s contract because they intended to select a minority replacement rather than because he had not performed his duties. According to the SF Chronicle, the city commission decided not to renew Arntz’s five-year contract and would instead employ an outside recruiter to evaluate candidates for the job alongside Arntz, should he choose to reapply.
Arntz, recruited in 2002, did not get a new contract because the commission reportedly plans to implement San Francisco’s “racial equity” strategy, which strives to maintain a “high level” of racial diversity in every government position.
In an email to Arntz, commission president Chris Jerdonek stated, “Our decision wasn’t about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the City’s racial equity plan and give people an opportunity to compete for a leadership position.” Fellow commissioner Cynthia Dai defended the move claiming, “You have to actually open up your senior leadership roles… otherwise you get in a situation where you are literally waiting for someone to retire for those positions to open up.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed condemned the election commission’s decision not to renew Arntz’s contract, calling it “unfair politicization.” However, Breed praised the city’s racial equity plan after signing it in 2019. Breed also noted that over the 20 years he oversaw the city’s elections, Arntz was a model worker.