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Outgoing Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax May Leave Early to Lead Austin

Broadnax was named the lone finalist for Austin City Manager last week. It appears his final day in Dallas may come sooner than originally expected.
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t c broadnax dallas city manager
Outgoing Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax impressed Austin City Council members during his visit to the city last week. The Council will vote on his hire Thursday. Jonathan Zizzo

Outgoing City Manager T.C. Broadnax could be leaving earlier than expected, a city council committee meeting agenda appears to indicate.

After seven years with the city, Broadnax in February announced he would be stepping down after a majority of the City Council requested his resignation. In a statement to the press, several council members said that the poor relationship between Broadnax and Mayor Eric Johnson made doing city business too difficult. In his resignation letter, he said his last day at City Hall would be June 3. 

That same month, Johnson tasked the Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs with most of the city manager search. That committee consists of Council Members Tennell Atkins, Cara Mendelsohn, Jesse Moreno, Paul Ridley, and Kathy Stewart. The lone item on the committee’s Tuesday agenda was a discussion to “deliberate employment of City Manager T.C. Broadnax and effective date of appointment of Interim City Manager Kimberly Bizor Tolbert.” The committee immediately went into a closed session.

Tolbert, who currently serves as a Deputy City Manager (Jon Fortune also has that title), has worked with Broadnax since he began in 2017. Her biography on the city’s website calls her “the City Manager’s top trusted advisor.”

In February, the Council voted 12-2 to appoint Tolbert to the interim position effective June 3, the date Broadnax originally provided as his last day at Dallas City Hall. Tuesday’s meeting is only a discussion, so any action by the full council would likely happen at an upcoming city council meeting. The draft agenda for the April 10 meeting does not yet indicate any action is planned.

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson announced last week that Broadnax was the lone finalist for city manager after culling the applicants from 39 to two. He said that the Council will vote on the hire when it meets Thursday. In June, Watson told Austin station KVUE that he hoped they would have a new city manager in place by September 1. 

On the Austin City Council message board, council members were enthusiastic about the hire.

“The scope of TC’s experience tipped the balance for me: he has not only managed cities of our size and complexity, he has specifically demonstrated the ability to work through difficult controversies,” said Council Member Leslie Pool.

Her colleague, Natasha Harper-Madison, agreed, saying that she felt Broadnax had the most experience and knowledge with specific challenges the city is facing. She cited his responses regarding transit and mobility, homelessness, housing, and land use as a deciding factor in her decision.

“Overall, I feel very confident that we made the best decision for my hometown, the great city of Austin, Texas and welcome our new City Manager, T.C. Broadnax to the team,” she wrote. “He’s got some exciting and hard work ahead and I’m convinced he’s prepared.”

At Austin’s town hall introducing Broadnax and fellow candidate Denton City Manager Sara Hensley, Broadnax said that he felt that he could bring similar programs, like rapid rehousing for homeless individuals, that were successful in Dallas to Austin. 

“We can get that same kind of focus to how we deal with our unhoused and really have an all-hands-on-deck attitude, so we can have similar types of successes here,” he said.

At that town hall, he said his decision to apply for the job came down to timing. According to records from the city of Austin, he applied on February 25. 

“I believe this is the perfect place, the perfect time, and my perspective being new will help at least shed light on new things that the city could be doing,” he said. 

Surveys of residents and staff during the candidate search told Austin council members that chief concerns for the next city manager would be housing and homelessness, scaling city services for the growing city, and police staffing. Residents also placed effective communication and integrity at the top of their desired traits in a city manager.

In the meantime, Dallas has officially embarked on its search. The deadline for search firms to submit proposals ended last week. The city council will pick a firm, and then that firm will post the listing and begin the search for a new city manager. Once the application date is closed, the firm will present the Council with a list of candidates that meet its requirements, and the field will be narrowed to less than a handful of finalists.

While that is going on, Tolbert will likely lead the city during the early implementation of the 2024 $1.25 billion bond. On May 4, voters will decide on 10 proposals ranging from infrastructure to parks, housing, economic development, and more. She will likely remain at the helm as the council reviews the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission. Should the Council approve amendments to the city’s charter, they will be on the November ballot.

It’s unclear whether Broadnax will receive any severance. Eight council members reportedly worked behind the scenes to formally request his resignation. That action could trigger a clause in his contract that would require the city to pay a full year’s salary of $423,246 as severance.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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