Anchorage Assembly Vice Chairman Chris Constant wanted to get on the record during the Assembly’s budget and finance committee meeting that he believes the city’s chief equity officer isn’t doing the job properly. Constant is unhappy with Junior Aumavae.
Constant acknowledged that he and other liberal members of the Assembly had lost a lawsuit against the mayor, when they tried to assume duties of the executive branch, saying that any chief equity officer could only be fired if the Assembly agreed to the firing. The mayor had fired the previous chief equity officer, who had been hired just weeks before Bronson took office in 2020. The role of chief equity officer had been established by the Assembly in an ordinance and approved by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
Now, Aumavae is in that role, confirmed as Anchorage’s chief equity officer on March 15 after delays and drama because of the firing of Clifford Armstrong, a Tacoma, Washington man who had been chosen by acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson in her final days at the helm.
Constant and Assemblyman Felix Rivera complained Thursday that Aumavae isn’t doing the job properly, according to the job description they created. Constant complained that Aumavae has gone to job fairs and made lots of appearances, but he hasn’t come up with an affirmative action plan or fulfilled the plan left behind by Armstrong.
The job description for the chief equity officer includes supporting policies and programs that promote equity and opportunity, and help the Mayor’s Office recruit and manage boards and commissions to ensure community representation. When Armstrong was in the role, he developed a plan but never executed it, so there is no real roadmap for what a chief equity officer should do to promote equity. But Constant said he expects a written plan and to see those targets and benchmarks achieved.
The Anchorage Assembly majority is now making it a habit of disparaging city workers in public. Some of the members have harshly criticized deputy library director Judy Eledge, who is a conservative, in public meetings. Now, the Assembly leadership has put a target on Aumavae.
The topic came up as the Assembly discussed using the alcohol tax to pay for Aumavae’s salary. When voters passed the alcohol tax in 2020, they were told by the Assembly that proceeds would be used for public safety and first responders, addressing child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.