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Chief Communications Officer candidates meet the media

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The City Manager could name a new Chief Communications Officer for Austin as early as today. The six finalists for the position were interviewed Tuesday at City Hall and participated in a question-and-answer session Tuesday night with local reporters and city employees. Officials with the City Manager’s office said they would likely narrow down the list to two or possibly three finalists and City Manager Marc Ott could name a new director for the Public Information Office sometime on Wednesday.


Three of the six finalists have experience in Austin. Keith Elkins is currently working as a freelance public relations consultant, but also has experience as a reporter at several Austin television stations including KEYE and KTBC. He also served as the spokesman for the Texas Lottery Commission and the Texas State Comptroller’s Office.

Roxanne Evans is with the Communications Office of the Austin Independent School District. Before that, she was the Deputy Communications Director for the Washington, D.C. school district. She also worked for the Austin American-Statesman for 10 years and spent one year as the Deputy Press Secretary for then-Governor Ann Richards.


Patty Gonzales previously worked with the city’s Public Information Office from 2000 to 2003. She left that position to join Time Warner Cable, where she is currently the Government Affairs Director and deals with more than 60 cities in the central Texas area. Gonzales was also a TV reporter in the Rio Grande Valley and a producer for the City of McAllen’s municipal access channel.


Three of the finalists are from outside the Austin area. Angela Shannon is with the Communications Office of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where she has worked for the past eight years. Shannon was director of public affairs for two federal agencies in the 1980s. She was also the managing editor of a weekly newspaper in Winston-Salem, N.C. and a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.


Doug Matthews is the Public Communications Director for Clearwater, Fla. He took that job in 2003 after rising through the ranks of city government in nearby Largo, Fla., serving as the city’s Marketing and Communications Manager.


Steve Hill was Communications Manager for the City of McKinney in North Texas from 2004 to 2007. Before working for the rapidly growing suburb of Dallas, Hill operated his own PR firm and served as Press Secretary for the Governor of Oklahoma. Hill joked during a reception last night that his stint with the Governor’s Office gave him an opportunity to deal with the national media during a crisis—that’s because the governor was indicted while Hill worked for him.


City PIO staff veteran David Matustik, who did not apply for the permanent job, has served as Interim Director of Communications since June, when Ott fired Public Information Officer Gene Acuña. Acuña is now with the public relations firm of TateAustinHahn.

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