Tolbert Gets Start Date; Mayor Johnson Blasts Media

Kimberly Tolbert | Image by City of Dallas

Kimberly Tolbert will become interim city manager on May 2 after Dallas City Council members approved her new start date on Wednesday.

That decision comes a little more than two weeks after City Manager T.C. Broadnax wrote in a memo that he planned to leave his position that same day — almost a month earlier than he had initially planned when he tendered his resignation on February 21. Broadnax is expected to join the City of Austin as its city manager on May 6.

Tolbert, one of two Dallas deputy city managers on staff, has worked for the City for more than 30 years in different roles, including as Broadnax’s chief of staff, The Dallas Express has reported. As interim city manager, Tolbert’s salary is set at $367,683.

Before council members’ Wednesday executive session to discuss Tolbert’s new start date — she was originally scheduled to become interim city manager on June 3 — they bid farewell to Broadnax in his final regular meeting. Mayor Eric Johnson did so while lampooning Dallas media for its coverage of his public disagreements with the city manager.

“I’m going to deal with an 800-pound elephant in the room … right up front because that’s who I am, and I’ve always been that way,” Johnson said. “This man and I haven’t always agreed, and that’s not a secret. … The media is going to feast on those times when we’ve not agreed. They’ll never tell you that 90% of the time we do [agree]. But that’s not a news story.”

The “times when they’ve not agreed” Johnson referred to have been widely covered by Dallas media, including when he was nearly fired when 20 terabytes of Dallas police data was lost after a ransomware attack last year that compromised the personal data of more than 30,000 people. Furthermore, Broadnax has repeatedly been faulted for his handling of the building permit process, which prompted some officials to push for his termination in 2022.

“I believe that the times that we’ve disagreed have been very much overblown and very much exaggerated and played up for various reasons,” Johnson said. “You can’t argue with the results. You can’t argue with the scoreboard. People can say what they want. I look back on the last [seven] years … and I see a lot of wins. You have to be disingenuous to say Dallas is worse off today than it was [seven] years ago. I get that [journalists] have a right to [write] stories in a dying industry.”

Johnson implied that news stories about Broadnax’s performance as city manager are “clickbait” but that reporters “have to feed their families.”

The Dallas Express asked Johnson to elaborate on those comments, but he did not respond by the deadline.

“I just want to thank [Broadnax] for how you’ve served,” Council Member Zarin Gracey (District 3) said. “There are many names of black leaders who echo through city hall. Your name will … continue to echo through city hall from a staff perspective.”

Council Member Chad West (District 1) also shared his thoughts on Broadnax’s tenure in Dallas.

“Your team is here because of your leadership and you having their backs … when they’re being maybe unnecessarily attacked by us. I wish you well in Austin.”

Council Member Adam Bazaldua (District 7) said Broadnax’s leadership skills are “second to none.”

“As a teacher who was a nerd who loved to watch council meetings in my spare time, I was inspired by your leadership and hopeful for a trajectory for what your vision was going to give our city. Your commitment to equity has really taught me. Your professionalism has really helped me grow. … You exemplify what a true leader is. You motivate people to be their better or best selves.”

Council Member Gay Donnell Willis (District 13) called Broadnax “a really smart man” who “could be ornery and stubborn” but thanked him for defending his staff.

And for the first time since he resigned, Broadnax publicly addressed the council about his time in Dallas.

“First of all, I want to thank the council — particularly those that shared some kind words. … It does warm my heart to hear that some people believe the city is better today than it was seven years ago. We haven’t always, as a team, gotten it right. … I’m going to miss this place, but it has been a great ride and a privilege to be city manager of the City of Dallas.”

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