AUSTIN (KXAN) — All but one member of Austin’s City Council voted to fire City Manager Spencer Cronk Wednesday.
Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison was the lone “no” vote.
“I chose not to support the immediate termination of our city manager because this action will not solve the systemic issues within our city government or our collective response to the recent winter storm,” Harper-Madison said.
Cronk will receive his base pay salary for 12 months, plus six months of COBRA payments and other payouts, which add up to about $463,000. He faced increased scrutiny following prolonged power outages from an ice storm in early February.
Jesus Garza was named interim city manager.
Garza was the city manager of Austin from 1994 to 2002, during Mayor Kirk Watson’s previous tenure. He also was behind the Stand Together Austin PAC which supported Watson’s run for mayor.
“This is a huge red flag; it will take a full year or more to get the next CM in place. Politics over policy is my concern here,” Celia Israel, who lost to Watson in last year’s mayoral election, said.
City Council members posted they looked forward to working with the interim city manager, who will take over on Feb. 16.
“I remain steadfast in my hope for a community that can do more than weather storms — an Austin that can deliver essential services, foster trust, grow our workforce and lay the foundation for families to thrive,” Council Member Alison Alter, who has been vocal about Cronk’s employment, posted.
Cronk spoke with KXAN after the vote.
“The thing I want to make sure is known about my tenure is we have gone through unprecedented events over and over and over. It started with Austin bomber in 2018, the Colorado river flooding and then going through a global pandemic and now these two recent ice events. These are unprecedented. And the way in which our community can ensure that we get through these stronger is something I know this community will be tackling in the future,” he said.
Cronk was hired as Austin’s city manager in 2017.