Mayor Bronson fires chief equity officer without approval from Anchorage Assembly

Chief Equity Officer Clifford Armstrong poses for a portrait in downtown Anchorage near City Hall on April 28th, 2021. (Hannah Lies/Alaska Public Media)

The Municipality of Anchorage’s chief equity officer was let go by Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson on Thursday, and he believes he was fired illegally.

Clifford Armstrong III was confirmed by the Assembly in late April to serve as the municipality’s first chief equity officer. The position is designed to promote equity by making sure hiring and contracting is fair and represents the diverse perspectives of Anchorage.

After being on the job for less than six months, Armstrong said, he was asked to leave the position on Thursday, Oct. 7.

“They gave me the option of either resigning at that moment or taking the involuntary separation, of which I voted for the latter,” Armstrong said. “They did not give cause.”

According to Anchorage municipal code, the chief equity officer can only be dismissed by the mayor if there is documented cause for termination and if a majority of the Assembly agrees. Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said the Assembly did not concur with Armstrong’s termination and his dismissal wasn’t proper under municipal code.

In late September, ahead of his termination, Armstrong said he had presented a report on the municipality’s hiring goals with respect to employees with disabilities.

“Out of basically 53 hiring goals that the Muni has for disabled employees, we met one of those 53,” Armstrong said. “And that was something that I actually directly reported to the Assembly and the mayor and Amy Demboski and Niki Tshibaka on the Tuesday morning of the Assembly meeting that we’re still kind of having today.”

Amy Demboski is Anchorage’s municipal manager and Niki Tshibaka is the chief human resources officer. Among the items on the Assembly’s agenda was a proclamation recognizing October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Both Constant and Armstrong believe the report was among the factors in Bronson’s decision to terminate Armstrong.

Armstrong said he is seeking legal counsel regarding his termination.

Bronson spokesman Corey Allen Young says the administration believes that the city charter allows for positions appointed by the mayor to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Armstrong was appointed by acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson.

The administration announced Monday morning that Uluao “Junior” Aumavae was hired to replace Armstrong.

Alaska Public Media

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