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T.C. Broadnax is Austin's next city manager. Here's why he was picked

T.C. Broadnax will join Austin as its next city manager later this year. He spoke with community members during a town hall meeting on Monday at the Permitting and Development Center Events Center.
Patricia Lim
KUT News
T.C. Broadnax will join Austin as its next city manager later this year. He spoke with community members during a town hall meeting on Monday at the Permitting and Development Center Events Center.

Austin announced Tuesday night that it will offer the city manager job to T.C. Broadnax, the outgoing city manager in Dallas. Upon his arrival later this year, he will have a full plate of duties and projects to oversee.

Broadnax is joining Austin during major reform in the housing and policing sectors. The city will also soon embark on the construction of the public transportation behemoth Project Connect, the I-35 expansion, the renovation of the Austin Convention Center and an expansion at the Austin airport.

These things are not new for Broadnax. In Dallas, he helped usher many of these same projects, including the revitalization of Fair Park, where the State Fair of Texas is held, and the master plan for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. He also helped oversee operations at Dallas Love Field airport, according to his resume.

Broadnax’s local government experience spans 30 years. He served as a city manager in Tacoma, Washington, and before that, as an assistant city manager in San Antonio. Most recently, he has been the city manager of Dallas. He took on the role in 2017 but resigned last month under pressure from the City Council.

Despite his complicated relationship with some of the Dallas City Council, Austin city leaders said they are confident he will do this job well.

"We did our due diligence and reference checked him in Dallas and Tacoma, and we got a lot of positive feedback," Council Member Zo Qadri said.

Ultimately, his experience is why city council members say he is the best fit for the job.

Council Member Vanessa Fuentes is on the city manager search subcommittee and said Broadnax's work addressing homelessness stood out.

While in Dallas, Broadnax helped create a large coalition of local governments, nonprofits, foundations and advocates that helped over 2,700 unhoused people leave homelessness.

“To me, that shows and demonstrates his ability to take a look at our homelessness ecosystem and ensure that we have a system that is set up to support our most vulnerable community members,” Fuentes said.

There are more than 5,500 people experiencing homelessness in Austin. The city has spent tens of millions of dollars on homelessness, including efforts to open permanent supportive housing and reopening the former Salvation Army shelter downtown. But there is still work to do, and council members say Broadnax has the experience.

Council Member Chito Vela said he was largely impressed with Broadnax’s experience with public safety, especially as Austin seeks a new permanent police chief and the Austin Police Department experiences staffing shortages.

“One of the first things that he needs to do is go ahead and kick off the search for a police chief and get a good, talented police chief, who is committed to the transparency and accountability that Austin voters demand,” Vela said.

Austin has not had a permanent police chief since Joe Chacon retired in September. Robin Henderson has been serving in the interim.

Vela said the city was holding off on hiring a police chief until a new city manager could be named. Broadnax told reporters earlier this week this is something he would focus on during his first 100 days in Austin.

“Top of mind is hiring a permanent police chief,” Broadnax said. “And creating a process that is public and open, that allows for people to have input in that process, and ultimately help select the next police chief for this city.”

In addition to steering Austin through some hefty decisions around public safety, transportation and homelessness, Broadnax would also be tasked with implementing the city’s environmental goals.

In February, the Austin City Council passed a resolution to initiate a plan to address climate change, sustainability of city operations and community resiliency. It's part of the city’s goals to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

Over the last several weeks, the Austin City Council has been working to implement policies that help combat climate change. The latest move was to create a program that incentivizes the use of battery-powered lawn tools. Council Member Ryan Alter said there is more to be done to help Austin achieve this and believes Broadnax will get the city there.

“I think we are going to move forward as a city making the most environmentally friendly and sustainable decisions with him in place,” Alter said.

Broadnax will finish his time in Dallas on June 3. The city council is set to finalize his hiring with a start date and salary at its April 4 meeting.

Copyright 2024 KUT News. To see more, visit KUT News.

Luz Moreno-Lozano