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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: Acevedo selection casts doubts on city manager Garza’s leadership, Austin’s civil structure in its entirety

Tate Burchfield / Hilltop Views
Austin City Hall, located between 2nd Street and Cesar Chavez, is the location of the Austin City Council and many other city officials’ offices. Every Thursday, the Austin City Council holds general meetings in which citizens are invited to watch and a limited number are allowed to speak. For more information about your local council representative, see the City of Austin’s website.

Austinites recently witnessed a rapid and controversial five-day period in which the interim city manager Jesús Garza placed Art Acevdeo as one his assistant city managers. Acevedo — who previously served as chief of police in Austin, Houston and Miami  — was met with mixed reactions from Austin residents and city officials alike. Due to the backlash and concerns, Acevado ultimately declined the job offer. 

The city government’s failure to select an appropriate and qualified assistant city manager illustrates the overall undemocratic nature of the Council-Manager system that the City of Austin possesses. In an effort to increase efficiency and run Austin “like a business,” the city ends up jeopardizing citizens’ voices by taking them out of the equation. 

Austin is a city that utilizes a Council-Manager system that has a revolving council of 10 seats, which appoints a city manager. A city manager is responsible for all the administrative functions of the city. Largely, the city’s mayor serves as a figurehead for the city.

Other large cities like Phoenix, San Diego and Cincinnati also possess a Council-Manager system. However, its popularity does not guarantee that it is an effective form. 

This type of governance is meant to ensure that power outlasts changes in the government — to create stability — but this system has placed people in power without true representation of, or input from, its citizens. It is understandable that the city would place someone in the position who is not easily swayed by political or outside interests. However, it then gives the manager an almost unchecked power to do what they see fit for the city, their only negative consequence being the possibility of being dismissed by the council. Even then, city managers often receive extensive severance packages such as Spencer Cronk’s $463,000 allotment

Austinites witnessed problems with this executive power with Interim City Manager Garza’s unchecked appointment of Acevedo as an Assistant City Manager. According to District 4 Councilmember José “Chito” Vela in a post on X, he stated that he “cannot support the hiring of Art Acevedo. There are too many red flags from his previous tenures as police chief, both here and in the other cities he’s served.” Acevedo’s previous involvement in a faulty police raid which led to two homeowners being killed in Houston, as well as various cases of racial violence that occurred under his tenure as chief, prompted much of the outrage following his appointment. This, combined with other controversies surrounding Acevedo’s dissolvement of an Austin Crime Lab which ultimately led to faulty sexual assault prevention kits, led many to question Garza’s appointment of Acevedo.

Overall, I believe that the process by which his appointment occurred warrants outrage within itself. An action that ultimately affects the almost 1 million residents of Austin should have involved the residents. Unlike a business, citizens aren’t just consumers – we are all shareholders.

For a proper Council-Manager system to work in the city, there needs to be an interplay between multiple parties throughout the city. If not, there is no way for Austin to advance and grow in an equitable way which services all of its citizens. With proper communication and cooperation between residents and city officials, the blunder of the Acevedo appointment could’ve been avoided.

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About the Contributor
Tate Burchfield
Tate Burchfield, Staff Writer
Tate Burchfield is a first year student on the hilltop, and this is his first year writing for Hilltop Views. He is interested in politics and the arts. He is from Galveston, Texas and is excited to spend his time in Austin with Hilltop Views.

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