Austin Will Reveal The Names Of City Manager Candidates After All

Nov 9, 2017

After jumping in an airport shuttle last week in an attempt to maintain secrecy, Austin City Council members agreed Thursday to release the names of second-round candidates for the vacant city manager position.

Up to five names of candidates will be made public no later than Monday.

“They’ve all agreed to have their names put out in the public,” said Steve Newton, a consultant with Russell Reynolds Associates, the hiring firm tasked with helping the council find a new city manager. “A couple of them are still needing to inform their employers of this situation and, out of respect for them, we want to make sure they’re able to cover that situation before we release their names.”

Candidates will interview with smaller groups of council members and some members of the city’s task force between now and early December. A third round of interviews will include members of the public.

It’s been more than a year since former Austin City Manager Marc Ott left for a job in D.C. In March, council members, at the urging of Russell Reynolds, voted to keep the hiring process secret – and to release only the name of the finalist to the public.

But when council members began interviews with candidates last week, the decision to shroud this process in anonymity appeared to backfire. As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, one candidate hid her face behind a folder, while others were quickly escorted into a private room.

On a second day of interviews, council members changed the location of interviews at the last minute, potentially violating the Texas Open Meetings Act. Last week, the Statesman sued the city over its refusal to release the candidates' names and over its decision to change its meeting location without notice.