Austin names Spencer Cronk as new city manager

Spencer Cronk named Austin's City Manager on Dec. 19, 2017.
Spencer Cronk named Austin's City Manager on Dec. 19, 2017.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly 14 months after Marc Ott turned in his resignation as Austin’s city manager, the city has finally filled the position.

After narrowing down the field to Spencer Cronk and Howard Lazarus, the Austin City Council decided to go with Cronk. Lazarus, however, had a history with the city of Austin, where he worked as a director for the Public Works Department and also served as an interim assistant city manager in 2010.

Cronk recently worked as the city coordinator for Minneapolis, directing the management of Minneapolis city government.

“He has a real strong track record, you just have to look at the work he did both in New York, with the state government in Minnesota,” says Adler in an interview with KXAN’s Robert Hadlock. “And then he’s effectively been the CEO in Minneapolis now for three years.”

Adler says Cronk is coming to a city that is quickly growing, which means he’ll have to tackle issues such as mobility and affordability. “Those challenges will be first on his plate,” says Adler.

In a press conference Tuesday, City Council Member Alison Alter said she believes Cronk will create a good partnership between the City Council and city staff. As Austin’s city manager, Cronk will oversee 12,000 city employees.

“I was attracted to Mr. Cronk’s emphasis on prevention, his emphasis on tearing down silos, and his — what I perceived as his ability to bring a fresh perspective — and to help us to empower the tremendous staff and talent that we have here in the city of Austin,” said Alter.

As of October, nine of the city’s 55 department head positions remained vacant — among them, police chief.

It’s not clear when Cronk will start the job in Austin, but once he does, he’ll be forced to prioritize a long list of priorities, from city hires to critical decisions at the Austin Police Department.

The Austin Police Association announced Tuesday it doesn’t plan to discuss contract negotiations until a new city manager is in place.

Cronk may also be responsible for future development and affordability questions as they relate to CodeNEXT. The city’s third draft plan to reshape the land development code to improve housing density and affordability is on track to be released three months later than expected. Originally scheduled to be released on Nov. 28, Draft 3 of CodeNEXT will now be released on Feb. 12, 2018.

Cronk said in a statement he was honored to have been selected as the next city manager of Austin. “Austin’s future is bright and I believe that by working together, we can build on the city’s strengths to be more inclusive and innovative so everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” he said.

The city didn’t start interviewing for the vacant position until this fall, and hired a search firm to help finalize the candidate list.

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