Assistant Housing Secretary Roberta Achtenberg, the highest-level openly gay official in the government, said Thursday she is resigning at the end of the month to run for mayor of San Francisco.
“If I’m going to be mayor of San Francisco, I have to begin my campaign immediately,” Achtenberg said in an interview.
President Clinton nominated Achtenberg in February 1993 to be assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, setting off a firestorm of criticism from conservatives. During a contentious confirmation, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., called Achtenberg “a militant-activist-mean lesbian, working her whole career to advance the homosexual agenda.”
The Senate confirmed her on a 58-31 vote.
“I submitted my resignation last evening to the president, effective the 30th of April,” said Achtenberg, a former San Francisco supervisor and lawyer.
She declined to release her resignation letter. But the San Francisco Chronicle reported that she wrote: “I feel the need to return to the city I call home.” She also thanked the president for his support during “a challenging confirmation process.”
Achtenberg said she had not yet received a formal response from the president but noted that she had discussed with him her plans to resign several weeks ago.
Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development faces major cuts by the GOP Congress, Achtenberg denied that she is deserting a sinking agency.
In San Francisco, Achtenberg will oppose incumbent Mayor Frank Jordan, supervisors Angela Alioto and Terence Hallinan.