City leaders tackle a city in transition as another top job open up

City Manager Marc Ott and APD Chief Art Acevedo leaving a budget meeting at City Hall on April 27, 2016, the day after the news came out about Acevedo's reprimand. (KXAN Photo)
City Manager Marc Ott and APD Chief Art Acevedo leaving a budget meeting at City Hall on April 27, 2016, the day after the news came out about Acevedo's reprimand. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As news broke that Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo would be taking a job to run the Houston police department, city leaders started thinking about who will fill his shoes. This is the latest in a string of high-level positions turning over due to higher paying jobs or elections.

“It’s a huge loss for the city of Austin. We’re losing a great leader. We’re losing someone that is much loved in the community. He has made us one of the safest communities in the country and also one of the most moral I think. He’s brought communities together so the city’s losing a great leader. I am personally losing a good, good friend,” said Mayor Steve Adler of the chief’s departure.

A city in transition

The announcement of Acevedo leaving comes at a time as the city of Austin is transitioning with several new people in powerful roles. Twenty-five percent of department heads are either interim or acting, meaning no permanent replacement has been found.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer, Elaine Hart, took over as interim city manager when Marc Ott left his position after years of service.

Sally Hernandez won the November election for the Travis County sheriff as Greg Hamilton retires. Margaret Moore will soon takeover as District Attorney after Rosemary Lehmberg decided not to run again.

At least one city councilman will be replaced as Jimmy Flannigan defeated incumbent Don Zimmerman in District 6 this month.

There is a run-off between Council member Sheri Gallo and challenger Allison Alter, to be decided in December.

Now, with two years under its belt, the new 10-1 city council (representation based on districts), plans to take on a larger role in administering the city, especially in revamping the city development code and millions of dollars in new construction projects. “[We’ll] really put the 10-1 stamp on new governance moving forward,” said Mayor Adler. “I think it’s an exciting and unique opportunity.”

And here’s one concrete example: For years council members have complained that the city departments set their own budgets and then bring it to council to rubber stamp. Next year, the interim city manager is moving the budget process up three months so city council and the mayor can have more input and say in how the city spends our tax dollars.

City leaders react to Acevedo leaving

Numerous city leaders have issued words of encouragement for Acevedo and his family as they head to Houston.

“We wish him well in his new position,” said outgoing Councilman Don Zimmerman, District 6,.

“Our beloved city has been very well-served by Police Chief Art Acevedo. I want to personally thank him for his service,” Councilwoman Sheri Gallo, District 10, released in a statement. “I particularly appreciate his focus on protecting the residents of our community in a way that builds trust and respect. The city of Houston is very lucky to have him. I look forward to working with Mayor Adler, City Manager Hart and the rest of the Council to ensure our new Police Chief will follow in the footsteps of Chief Acevedo continue the same commitment to public service and public safety.”

Councilwoman Ellen Troxclair told KXAN, “Chief, you will be greatly missed, but I know you are well prepared for taking on this next challenge. Thank you for your compassion, wisdom, and ceaseless efforts to make our city safe and welcoming. We wish you the very best in your next chapter.”

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