The Hunt for Austin’s Next Top Executive Officially Begins

City manager application window opens today, closes Feb. 12

Kirk Watson conferring with Austin’s next manager (Photo by John Anderson / Maggie Q. Thompson)

Would you like to be Austin’s next city manager? It’s a taxing job with long hours, you have 11 managers, and under the best circumstances no one in the public knows you exist – under worse circumstances, people start a hashtag campaign to get you fired.

But you would probably earn close to half a million dollars a year in compensation, so it all balances out in the end. Interested? Your chance to apply is here. Mosaic, the executive search firm City Council hired last year to conduct the manager search, has officially opened up the window for applications. Feb. 12 will be the last day to apply.

In a message board post, Mayor Kirk Watson laid out what to expect over the next few months, as Council aims to hire someone by mid-April to take the job Interim City Manager Jesús Garza has been covering. The Mosaic consultants have assured the Council working group charged with leading this part of the search that a number of good candidates will apply. We’ll see about that. Many people involved with the last search tell us that most of the applicants were less-than-inspiring. Spencer Cronk landed the job, but was ultimately fired.

But Austin’s a different city than it was during the last search. We’re the 10th largest in the nation, and we just passed some significant housing reforms – though transforming the city’s police department remains an enigma (good luck to the next person given that thankless job). Maybe Austin’s 2024 city manager candidates will be an improvement over the 2017 class.

In between now and April, expect communication from Council offices about what constituents want from the next manager, as well as public discussions during Council meetings. But maybe don’t expect the next city boss to start in April; as Watson notes in his post, Council may prefer they start later in the year, after the next budget is adopted. Meaning, ICM Garza would have the chance to control two budgets – a thought that progressive advocacy groups and (some) Council offices will surely find frustrating.

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