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Dallas' New City Manager: An Insider Trying To Be A 'Change Agent'

Dallas and its new city manager put the finishing touches on his contract this week. A.C. Gonzalez is officially in the top job, after spending much of the last two decades working for his predecessors.

In this week’s Friday Conversation, Gonzalez talks about the challenges of the job, the size of his salary and how a longtime insider positions himself as “change agent.”

Interview Highlights: A.C. Gonzalez On...

  • The debate about "change" during his hiring process: "If you look at my record ... you will see a track record of making changes while I've been here, both in terms of systems, the personnel that we had, the programs that we offered. There's a litany of changes, some of which were hard-fought."
  • What he learned from the Uber controversy last summer: "The failure of communication with the council caused some misperceptions to take place. But I'm hopeful we're past that, to be working just as hard to make this organization even more transparent as we make other changes in the organization."
  • His $400,000 salary, which is 31 percent higher than former city manager Mary Suhm's: "I respect that the council did the very businesslike approach to it, which was they looked at the market. Setting it at $400,000, while it was an increase ... really speaks more to how underpaid Mary was, not how inappropriate this salary amount is. It's really in the middle of the market. If you look at the private sector, in terms of what payment would be for a comparable position, this doesn't even come close."
  • Whether, as some have said, he's "too nice" for the job: "If you look in terms of my record ... and you ask people that were involved in those projects, I think you would hear two things: One is that he is nice, when things are going according to where they need to be going. And then sometimes I can bring on a different personality, to make sure it stays on track. And so, I have a versatility on how I can approach things."
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.