AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of three bodies overseeing the implementation of Austin’s multi-billion-dollar Project Connect transit system appointed and confirmed its permanent executive director Wednesday.
The Austin Transit Partnership — an entity created and tasked with seeing Project Connect’s delivery to Austin voters — voted Wednesday to confirm Interim Executive Director Greg Canally to the full-time position. Canally had served in an interim capacity since last April when then-CapMetro CEO Randy Clarke stepped down from his temporary capacity of overseeing ATP.
The vote came after weeks of confusion and some concerns surrounding the process. Back in January, some CapMetro board members were surprised to learn Canally had been named the sole finalist for the position.
On Wednesday, ATP Board Chair Veronica Castro de Barrera acknowledged January’s announcement had been received with some levels of surprise and confusion, apologizing for any fragmented trust it caused with community members.
Castro de Barrera clarified Wednesday that an official vote had not been cast for Canally in closed session back in January. With him as the sole finalist, ATP hosted two community engagement opportunities open to the public, with Canally also meeting with community advisory members prior to Wednesday’s vote.
As for the selection process, Castro de Barrera said ATP hired recruitment firm Affion Public in December, saying they were the only respondent to ATP’s request for a recruitment search. Board Member Tony Elkins criticized ATP’s attempts at a national selection process, saying he resigned from the search committee as a result of concerns he had with it.
Elkins said ATP members learned January 12 Canally would be appointed as the sole candidate ahead of a three-week engagement period. While certifying his support for Canally’s qualifications, Elkins criticized some levels of trust lost throughout the process, saying increased transparency is needed in the future.
João Paulo M. Connolly with the ATX Mobility Coalition said transparency and clear public processes are integral for the future of the Project Connect program, adding the ATP board needs to work to improve its communications with the general public, the ATP community advisory committee and other Project Connect stakeholders as the program progresses.
Castro de Barrera said she’s committed to ensuring board communications and processes are clear and aren’t misinterpreted or taken out of context in the future.
Following the board’s approval of Canally as executive director, he thanked all of ATP’s staff, board members, committee members and Austin stakeholders who’ve helped move this project forward.
“Austin is alive with fantastic talent,” he said, later adding: “Let’s get back to work.”