Could San Francisco’s elections Director John Arntz potentially lose his job after 20 years for not being ethnically diverse enough? Not if Mayor Breed or the Board of Supervisors can help it. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the controversy started in mid-November when the Elections Commission voted to launch an executive search for Arntz’s position, citing a need for greater racial diversity in City Hall leadership. The commission did say that they would consider Arntz for the job, if he chose to apply, in addition to other candidates, before making a final decision about whether or not to renew his five-year term. As reported by the Chronicle’s Mallory Moench, commission president Chris Jerdonek told Artnz in an email that the decision to conduct a search “wasn’t about your performance,” but a move toward greater racial equity by giving a diverse pool of candidates a chance to compete for the position.
Needless to say, criticism of the commission’s action swept in from both elected officials who commend Arntz for his great work with the department, as well as national conservatives who view this as potentially discriminating against Arntz because he’s a white man.
So where do Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors come into play? Well, it seems that the commission doesn’t have a budget and neither the Mayor nor the Supervisors are willing to cough up the $50,000 to hire a search firm. While such a move may protect Artnz’s job for the time being, the commission is calling the refusal to provide funding “undermining” the commissions oversight mandate of appointing a department director.