Skip to main content
Politics & Policy

SF Elections Commission move boss replacement plans to closed meeting

John Arntz, the director of San Francisco's Department of Elections, saw his job status go into limbo after the Elections Commission voted last month to conduct a nationwide search. | Courtesy ABC-7

After receiving condemnation across the political spectrum for its plan to replace Elections Director John Arntz, San Francisco's Elections Commission unanimously voted Monday evening to revisit the decision in a closed January meeting.

Arntz is a straight white man, and commissioners originally said the reason for replacing him was that they wanted to “expand equitable access” to the post.

However, records reviewed by The Standard show that Arntz runs a department with one of the best records in the city when it comes to equity, while the commission itself falls short on the very citywide racial equity program used to justify the decision.

In response to the commission's earlier decision, the Board of Supervisors had blocked funding for the replacement search, effectively giving the commission no way to find a replacement.

Monday's meeting was lengthy with dozens of irate comments from residents, most of whom opposed Arntz's removal.

Commissioner Lucy Bernholz expressed dismay at the Election Commission's "poor decision making" and the media circus that followed.

"Not only have we inflicted damage on the [elections] department, but we've made ourselves an unreliable, untrustworthy body," she said.

But two other commissioners, Cynthia Dai and Renita LiVolsi, defended the commission's earlier decision to look beyond Arntz.

"I think we did the right thing; it was something we discussed over three months," said Dai. "A lot of people think we have found the best person already, but the reality is we haven't really looked. My vote was not personal; it was about process. Not everybody agreed but a majority of the commission did agree and that is democracy."