Anchorage mayor reaches legal settlement with former chief equity officer

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

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration has reached a settlement with Clifford Armstrong III, the city’s former chief equity officer who was fired last October. 

Bronson fired Armstrong without cause and without Assembly approval. Armstrong sued the city and, in a legal complaint filed in November, argued the mayor fired him in a manner that went against municipal code. 

Bronson’s office announced in a statement Friday that the two sides had reached a settlement in the lawsuit. In the statement, Armstrong said, “unfortunately, I became entangled in a larger political and legal dispute related to the Chief Equity Officer position.” 

Armstrong said he was pleased with the settlement, which one of his attorneys confirmed was $125,000. Armstrong declined an interview request for this story.

He was the city’s first chief equity officer, hired in April 2021 by then-acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson. The position is designed to promote equity by making sure hiring and contracting is fair and represents the diverse perspectives of Anchorage. 

According to the ordinance that created the position, the chief equity officer can only be fired by the mayor if there’s documented cause for termination and if a majority of the Assembly agrees. The mayor’s office disagrees, arguing that the ordinance was against charter, and the mayor has the right to fire executive mayoral appointees without cause.

A lawsuit filed by Mayor Bronson against the Anchorage Assembly regarding the ordinance is ongoing. 

RELATED: Former Anchorage chief equity officer is suing the Bronson administration for wrongful termination

Armstrong’s salary as chief equity officer was just over $115,000.

Bronson hired Junior Aumavae as Armstrong’s replacement. Aumavae is a former community outreach specialist for the Drug Enforcement Agency. A spokesman for the mayor said the administration is still undecided when Aumavae’s name will be submitted to the Assembly for confirmation. 

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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