City Coordinator Spencer Cronk will leave Minneapolis to take the job as city manager of Austin, Texas, leaving behind a far larger city coordinator’s office than the one he took over and a reputation for effective navigation of the tricky politics at City Hall.
The coordinator’s office nearly tripled its head count under Cronk’s watch, becoming the home for several new initiatives as City Hall took on sick leave and a minimum wage and added new offices aimed at promoting racial economic equality, sustainability, resilience and innovation.
“He had a difficult job — he had to manage the expectations of the mayor and 13 council members, and he did well,” Council Member Abdi Warsame said. “I wish him the best.”
Cronk, a former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and commissioner of the state of Minnesota’s Department of Administration, said he is most proud of his work in Minneapolis to make the city more efficient and help elected officials and department heads work together.
“More and more is being asked of city government,” he said. “Building strong working relationships that weather the daily storms is critical.”
His last day will be Feb. 11, just after the Super Bowl, the terms of which he helped negotiate for the city.
Mayor Jacob Frey praised Cronk for developing programs that recognize and reward city employees for good work, and for pushing for the city to build a new office building.
“Spencer has quarterbacked so many projects for our city through the years so it’s really fitting that he’ll be with us through the Super Bowl,” Frey said.
While the coordinator’s office has long been responsible for human resources, information technology, finance and the 911 and 311 systems, Cronk spearheaded expansion of the office to 27 full-time employees from 10. He said the office became a “consultant” to other departments and an “incubator” for new proposals.
Frey said he will push the city coordinator’s office this year to focus more on affordable housing, which is the first priority of his term as mayor.
Cronk reported to the mayor and full City Council, but worked closely with former Mayor Betsy Hodges, who appointed him. Cronk had been interviewing with officials in Austin since before the election and was named one of two finalists for the city manager job in early December. He will likely be paid at least double his current $173,355 salary.
“I love Minneapolis and I’m really proud of the time that I’ve invested in our community,” Cronk said. “Austin is another opportunity to build on what I’ve learned and it’s just a really great professional opportunity.”
Cronk’s tenure was not without hiccups. He was one of the public officials who used a luxury suite at U.S. Bank Stadium and reimbursed the stadium authority for his attendance after a reporter inquired about it. He overhauled R.T. Rybak’s “Results Minneapolis” transparency program, reducing the amount of raw data it produced and emphasizing the city’s progress toward sweeping goals such as reducing racial disparities.
Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde will be the interim city coordinator when Cronk leaves, and Council Member Andrew Johnson said he hopes she gets the job permanently.
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz