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Dallas council members complain they were blindsided by city manager’s 2022 goals

The Dallas skyline is seen from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on a cloudy day in Dallas.
Keren Carrión
Dallas' city manager outlined his 2022 goals for the city on Wednesday. Some council members had different goals in mind.

When City Manager T.C. Broadnax presented his goals for 2022, he may have been surprised by the reaction. Some council members complained that they were blindsided and said they wanted to have more input in the process.

The goals included improvements to 9-1-1 response time and bulk trash pick-up, installing more air quality monitors throughout the city and developing an online permitting system.

“These are not the goals I would set for you. They aren't even the right questions,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said.

Mendelsohn said Broadnax should focus on creating more jobs, attracting businesses and making Dallas a safer city.

“How you get there, I think, is where we always debate and I look forward to trying to find a way to make sure that there's alignment,” Broadnax said.

The council strategic planning session is dedicated to evaluating the work the council is doing, brainstorming ways to improve workflow and setting new goals.

Mendelsohn called it “the most important conversation we will have.” She wanted to focus only on Broadnax’s goals during the session.

Council Member Tennell Atkins said he wasn’t sent the goals before the meeting and that made it hard to give feedback. But he wanted more of Broadnax’s goals to focus on public safety.

Other council members said they wanted more input and asked when that could happen. Adam McGough said he was concerned the city manager’s goals did not align with the council’s.

Broadnax said the goals are not set in stone.

“It’s a little bit frustrating when you sit in those leadership roles where you can't actually touch the product and you don't actually make the product,” Broadnax said.

He said strategy meetings can be tense because council members have different priorities. Broadnax’s also added that the City Council's job is to make policy, not do the work. For example, he makes goals and city department employees execute the task.

As things got more heated, Council Member Carolyn King Arnold said her colleagues were asking too much from Broadnax.

“As a city manager you are asking him to be a Black Jesus,” she said.

Broadnax hopes that together with the city council they can agree on goals that will help improve the life of Dallas residents.

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Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.