Austin names Howard Lazarus and Spencer Cronk as city manager finalists; final decision to come by year’s end

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Austin announced the two finalists for its city manager position on Thursday, as the city moved closer to appointing its new top executive and closing the book on a search process that has taken more than a year.

Either Spencer Cronk, the current city administrator in Minneapolis, or Howard Lazarus, the current city administrator for Ann Arbor, Michigan will take over as Austin’s city manager by the end of 2017. Stephen Newton, a representative for hired search firm Russell Reynolds and Associates, made the announcement at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The city picked Cronk and Lazarus—the former public works director in Austin—out of a finalist pool of six candidates that included public and private sector leaders from across the country.

The public will get the chance to meet the candidates in a town hall-style event held at the Austin Convention Center next week. The event was originally scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m., but District 1 Council Member Ora Houston said more time was needed to inform the public of the event. City staff suggested Thursday, Dec. 14 as a possible alternative date.

The city is asking the public to provide feedback on the candidates after the town hall through official surveys that will be available online and in print at the town hall meeting.

City Council will meet with the candidates on Wednesday, Dec. 13 for a final round of interviews. The council will then call a special meeting, to be held on either Dec. 18 or Dec. 19, to take a final vote on the candidates.

It has been over a year since former City Manager Marc Ott moved to Washington, D.C., for a new job after eight years as Austin’s top executive. Although officials anticipated the process of finding a new city manager would take six months, city leaders now say they are confident Austin will operate under a permanent city manager by the start of 2018.

See this story for background on the year-long search.

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Christopher Neely

Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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