The San Francisco Elections Commission voted last week to consider a new pool of candidates to fill its director position, rather than renewing the current head’s contract for another five years, despite having an "impeccable record."
Director John Arntz has been in the position since 2002, but in an effort to advance its “racial equity plan,” the commission will hire a search firm to explore other options.
“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,” Commission President Chris Jerdonek told Arntz in an email Monday, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. “We also wanted to allow enough time for a fair and equitable process and conduct as broad a search as possible.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, officials in the Department of Elections, and others were disturbed by the decision.
“Over the last year John successfully ran four elections, while navigating a pandemic that thwarted San Francisco into crisis response — all without a single issue,” Breed said, reports Mission Local. “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.”
Supervisor Catherine Stefani, meanwhile, said the decision to dismiss Arntz after decades of service is "a dereliction of the Commission's duty."
Members of the Elections Commission are tasked with ensuring free, fair, and functional elections and must act in the best interests of the City and County. The decision to dismiss John Arntz after 20 years of impeccable leadership is a dereliction of the Commission’s duty. https://t.co/fiQ7Na3xaK— Supervisor Catherine Stefani (@SupStefani) November 22, 2022
According to reports, Arntz can apply for the position if he wishes to be considered.
I don't get this move by the Elections Commission. Why push out SF's successful, nonpartisan, and universally respected elections director? https://t.co/0RglcP6p6V— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) November 22, 2022
When John Arntz took over as Director of Elections, the Department was a mess — remember ballot box tops floating in the bay?— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) November 22, 2022
Arntz turned it around. It’s now one of our best run departments.
Why on earth is the Elections Commission moving to dump this strong elections leader?