Politics & Government

Tacoma will be looking for new city manager after Dallas’ search lands on Broadnax

T.C. Broadnax
T.C. Broadnax Staff file, 2012

Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax appears to be headed to Dallas.

Dallas City Council members agreed to hire Broadnax Friday after a two-hour closed meeting that followed in-person interviews of five finalists earlier in the week. Mayor Mike Rawlings called Broadnax to let him know of the council's decision, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“I told him we still had to go through some contract negotiations, and he said, ‘Trust me, we’ll get that done. I want this job,’ ” Rawlings said. The Dallas council will vote Wednesday to make the hire official.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said she wasn’t surprised to learn that Broadnax had been chosen.

“He’s very talented,” Strickland said Friday. “He’s in the middle of his career and not the end of it.”

“One of the things I asked myself is, when is the last time a city manager from Tacoma was recruited to manage one of the largest cities in the U.S.?” she said. “They would not look at T.C. Broadnax if we were not doing good things in this city — the way he dealt with the budget crisis coming in here, just getting our financial house in order, helping us get our reserves up, getting our bond rating up. A lot of that is the work of his expertise, and the people he brought in to help run that department.”

Dallas is the third-largest U.S. city with a city manager–council form of government, according to the National League of Cities. Phoenix and San Antonio, Texas, outrank it by population.

Strickland said conducting a national search for a new city manager will be on the top of the Tacoma council’s agenda in 2017, but she has not yet discussed with Broadnax when he is leaving.

Broadnax could not be reached for comment Friday.

He will take over management of a city with a $3.1 billion budget and more than 13,000 employees, replacing A.C. Gonzalez, who is retiring at the end of January and was paid $400,000. Broadnax is paid $252,544 in Tacoma.

He is facing sizable challenges in his new job: a failing police and fire pension system, and a group of lawsuits over back pay for police and firefighters that together could cost the city billions.

Dallas has had a longstanding tradition of hiring city managers from within city government, the Morning News reported. Council members told reporters there that Broadnax stood out in part because he arrived in the city in advance of this week’s interviews so that he could take his own tour of neighborhoods affected by high poverty and inequality.

Broadnax came to Tacoma in 2012 from San Antonio, Texas, where he was an assistant city manager. In hiring him, Tacoma council member cited his diverse background during an 18-year career in government management highlighted by strong budget experience.

Broadnax made several hires from San Antonio, including the city of Tacoma’s chief spokeswoman Gwen Schuler, Budget Director Tadd Wille and Assistant to the City Manager Nadia Chandler Hardy. Dallas council members told the Morning News that they expect that some city staffers who worked for Broadnax in San Antonio and Tacoma may follow him to Dallas.

Strickland said she didn’t know if any staffers would be leaving, but hoped they wouldn’t.

“I hope they see the quality of life here is so magnificent and they’re so happy in their jobs they want to keep working for Tacoma, but I can’t predict what they’re going to do,” she said.

Staff writers Candice Ruud and Kim Bradford compiled this report.