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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: Austin City Council confirms T.C. Broadnax for a position he may not be fit for

Lynn Jafarzadeh / Hilltop Views
T.C. Broadnax as the City Manager of Dallas served for seven years before resigning in early 2024. Dallas, like Austin, has had a council-manager system since 1931, with the first City Manager John Edy. At the time of this article, Dallas is still without a permanent city manager to replace Broadnax.

Over the course of the last two weeks, T.C Broadnax was chosen and approved as the new Austin City Manager. Before coming to Austin, Broadnax previously served as the City Manager of Dallas and Tacoma, Washington. However, Broadnax’s arrival in Austin is not being met with fanfare. This is because his past controversies in his previous roles has made his success as Austin City Manager less-than hopeful.

During his tenure in Dallas, Broadnax received immense pressure to resign due to his involvement in the accidental deletion of over a million files in the Dallas Police Department’s (DPD) database. In addition to this, there were high tensions between Broadnax and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in regards to staffing shortages in their city’s police department. If Broadnax’s previous relations with DPD is any indication on his future in Austin, it is not very promising due to the growing importance of police management in Austin and all of the United States. Austin is a city that holds a lot of requirements and expectations for their city officials, such as awareness and preparedness, which could be a challenge for Broadnax.

Broadnax’s appointment brings an end to Interim City Manager Jesús Garza’s one-year term. Garza’s term as city manager has been  relatively calm, besides the slight local upset at the selection of Art Acevedo as his assistant city manager to help with the Austin Police Department (APD). Similar to Broadnax, Acevedo oversaw blunders with the APD which stained his relationship with the city of Austin. It is true, however, that Broadnax has not been involved in as many controversial actions as Acevedo. 

Although the ADP has attempted to go through police reform, such as the Reimagining Public Safety program, there is a long way to go for Austinites to have full trust in the department again. According to a poll conducted by Austin Monitor in 2022, 80% of surveyed respondents feel  the same or worse about APD than they did in 2021. Public safety is one of the utmost concerns of Austinites, and Broadnax will have to navigate an even more precarious situation than what he faced in Dallas. 

As a city manager, he will also have to deal with homelessness and emergency preparedness as climate crises will not stop in the foreseeable future. In this regard, Dallas is different from Austin, as Dallas County contains 163 homeless people per 100,000 residents (0.163%) compared to Travis County’s 10,000 homeless people per 1 million residents (1%). Besides the problem of homelessness, there are also the conflicting opinions offered by many Austinites about dealing with the unhoused problem in the city. This may serve as a potentially hard area to navigate for Broadnax in regards to appealing to Austinites. 

Additionally, there is a specific concern by Austin residents toward how the city handles the climate crisis. In fact, the inaction of former City Manager Spencer Cronk during the 2023 winter storm was what led to him falling out of favor with the Austin City Council. Cronk’s failure to address the situation in 2023 illustrates a pressing issue with City Managers: their disconnect from those they are hired to serve. 

Unlike other city officials, City Managers are hired — and fired — by the City Council in an extensive process. However, at no part during this process are citizen voices consulted. Although this seeks to create a less biased best fit for the city, it shuts out the most important part of a city: its people. If a citizenry is unhappy with their City Manager, all they can do is express their concerns to their council member who may do nothing. 

Broadnax might be a great fit for Austin, but only time will reveal if he has what it takes to be Austin’s city manager. If he does fail, he will undoubtedly hear negative comments from Austinites and Austin city officials will go unscathed and not receive backlash for their actions. The city manager selection process makes it so the position will outlast the council members who select them, but they do not outlast the citizens. Citizens who have lived in the city their entire lives suffer the consequences of officials given immense salaries (like Broadnax’s alleged $470,000 yearly salary) who have the ability to move from city to city after getting fired. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story falsely claimed that 10% of Travis County residents were homeless. The story has been updated to accurately report this data point.

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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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  • L

    LeonardApr 17, 2024 at 9:08 am

    10,000 homeless out of 1 million population is 1%

  • T

    Tara StricklandApr 16, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    T C Broadnax was an utter failure for thr Coty of Dallas. We are in worse shape than we have been in many years. The homelessness, the streets, so many other things. He was NOT being held accountable and look where we stand today. We need better representation in Dallas . Leaders who want to see the city run well. Not hindering growth and preventing permits from being approved. He was just a detriment to Dallas and was rewarded when leaving. Not a Good luck for us at all. The citizens are left here to deal with his behavior or lack of work. It is not ok! Good luck Austin he never seemed enthused to be here or engage in positive actions here.