San Francisco’s election director who has been in the position since 2002 will have his contract terminated in a move that ‘wasn’t about performance’ but about ‘racial equity’.

Election director John Arntz, who is white, will not have his contract renewed next year, San Francisco’s Elections Commission decided in a 4 to 2 decision last week.

The decision to fire Arntz was driven ‘in large part by the city’s plan for racial equity’ – but it was Arntz himself that helped to establish many such plans.

According to the Department of Elections’ website, its Racial Equity Action Plan was ‘developed through a collaboration’ with Arntz.

City officials decided not to offer a fifth five-year contract to Arntz despite widespread praise from colleagues regarding his tenure as election director. 

‘It’s hard to achieve diversity targets if senior roles never open up,’ Cynthia Dai, a member of the commission, told the Washington Free Beacon.

‘This has nothing to do with his performance,’ said Dai, who voted against his renewal.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed came to Arntz’s defense, telling Mission Local: ‘John Arntz has served San Francisco with integrity, professionalism and has stayed completely independent.

‘He’s remained impartial and has avoided getting caught up in the web of City politics, which is what we are seeing now as a result of this unnecessary vote.

‘Rather than working on key issues to recover and rebuild our City, this is a good example of unfair politicization of a key part of our government that is working well for the voters of this city.’

Arntz’s contract will expire in May next year but he could still choose to reapply for the job. This will be the first time since 2002 that the Elections Commission chose not to renew the position in favor of conducting a search for new candidates. 

Election director John Arntz – who has been in the job since 2002 – will not have his contract renewed next year due to concerns over ‘racial equity’

San Francisco mayor, London Breed, said that Arntz had served 'with integrity, professionalism and has stayed completely independent'

San Francisco mayor, London Breed, said that Arntz had served ‘with integrity, professionalism and has stayed completely independent’

Chris Jerdonek (pictured), the comission's president, told Arntz in an email that the decision was unrelated to his performance over the past 20 years

Chris Jerdonek (pictured), the comission’s president, told Arntz in an email that the decision was unrelated to his performance over the past 20 years

As election director Arntz has been in charge of running the elections for the county and the city for 20 years. This move came just eight days after the November 8 midterm election.

City Attorney David Chiu said he was ‘mystified’ by the commission’s decision, saying ‘some folks have forgotten the history of this department.’

‘Before Director Arntz, we had five directors in as many years, ballot boxes floating in the bay and an intense lack of confidence in city elections,’ he told Mission Local.

Arntz was told in an email from the Commission’s president Chris Jerdonek: ‘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.’

Cynthia Dai, a member of the commission who voted against Arntz's renewal, said that 'it's hard to achieve diversity targets if senior roles never open up'

Cynthia Dai, a member of the commission who voted against Arntz’s renewal, said that ‘it’s hard to achieve diversity targets if senior roles never open up’

A man is seen at Department of Elections to cast his vote in City Hall of San Francisco. The move from the commission came around eight days after November 8 midterm elections

A man is seen at Department of Elections to cast his vote in City Hall of San Francisco. The move from the commission came around eight days after November 8 midterm elections

In 2021, the Elections Commission wrote to the mayor that its elections were well run, saying: ‘San Francisco runs one of the best elections in the country and we believe this transparent process has allowed us to continue to improve our elections.’

A year prior in 2020 it wrote Arntz a commendation for his ‘incredible leadership’.

Division Manager Mayank Patel wrote an email to the department without Arntz’s knowledge, Mission Local reported. It included a letter signed by 11 other division managers detailing why they supported his renewal.

‘Under the leadership of Director Arntz, our Department successfully conducted over thirty public elections and rebuilt the public’s confidence in the city’s elections processes from the ground up,’ wrote Patel.

Another official, District 2 supervisor Catherine Stefani, said on Twitter that the decision was ‘a dereliction of the Commission’s duty.’ 

If Arntz is still the most qualified candidate after a competitive search, Dai said he will have his contract renewed. 

A rift has emerged in San Francisco between elected officials and unelected bureaucracies where progressive identity politics have advanced faster, according the Free Beacon. 

It suggests that the city’s ‘racial equity plan’ – which the Elections Commission cited to support their decision regarding Arntz – was created by the same elected officials that are now criticizing the decision not to renew him.

City attorney David Chiu said he was 'mystified' by the decision

City attorney David Chiu said he was ‘mystified’ by the decision

A voting sign outside of San Francisco City Hall

A voting sign outside of San Francisco City Hall

District 2 supervisor Catherine Stefani, said on Twitter that the decision was 'a dereliction of the Commission's duty'

District 2 supervisor Catherine Stefani, said on Twitter that the decision was ‘a dereliction of the Commission’s duty’

Board appointee Jerdonek, City Attorney appointee Dai, District Attorney’s office appointee Robin Stone and Public Defender’s office appointee Renita LiVolsi voted to not renew Arntz’s contract.

Mayoral appointee Nancy Crowley and treasurer appointee Lucy Bernholz voted for him to stay. 



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