Austin City Council candidate profiles: District 6

Aside from the Presidential election, here in Austin there are several races that will shape the future of our city. 

5 seats on the Austin City Council are up for grabs.

FOX 7 is profiling every candidate, including the incumbents. 

First up: District 6

When asked about crowning achievements of his past 2 years on council, Don Zimmerman speaks with pride about his "local constituent service office" in the heart of District 6...an idea that was so novel, he says the city fought him. 

"My response was 'Well send me an e-mail and tell me what gives you the legal authority to tell me I don't have the legal authority to make good on a campaign promise,'" Zimmerman said.

Recently, Council gave the go-ahead to a live video feed for citizen communication through that District office. 

He's also proud to have helped a group of "Old Lampassas Trail" property owners avoid annexation.

"We defeated that annexation and we learned that it was the first time in the history of the city that a hostile annexation had been stopped," Zimmerman said. 

Zimmerman has had some controversial moments on the dais.  He protested another council member's "compassion" resolution with his own amendment lifted from the "Church of Satan" just to prove his point.

In August he said this to a group largely made up of Hispanic parents and students: "...start a business, do something useful and produce something in your society so you don't have to live off others. Thank you."  The audience booed.

Zimmerman says his comments weren't racist.  But he did get backlash.  In protest, a local pinata-maker added Zimmerman's likeness to their repertoire. 

"I was absolutely overjoyed to find out that somebody, a small business actually, took my advice and they're doing something useful.  They made a pinata, we went down and bought one," Zimmerman said.

"There's so much to be done...and when he focuses on his ideological grandstanding and his bullying and then at the end of that process won't even vote 'yes' or 'no'...abstains?  This is a failure of leadership on every level," said Zimmerman's opponent Jimmy Flannigan.

Flannigan says one of the many issues in District 6 is property crime.

"Even in Don's own neighborhood, the Indian community is being targeted for property crime.  And even though he chairs the Public Safety Committee he hasn't done any work to address this issue," Flannigan said.

Flannigan says he wants to lead on CodeNext and bring housing to corridors with existing infrastructure.

"North Lamar is the best example where there are one-story warehouses right along the busiest, most highly trafficked transit corridor we have.  Strip malls with empty parking lots that are going underutilized...that could and should be housing for folks.  Because District 6 feels the pain when Central Austin doesn't build," Flannigan said. 

Final thoughts...

"To me, my opponent is really taking us back to the old downtown City Council days where you had 7 to nothing votes," Zimmerman said.

"He celebrates being the one 'No' vote in a 10-1 vote on council.  Well if you can't count to 6, you can't get stuff done.  And if you're not part of getting to 6, your issues are going to get ignored.  District 6 suffers with this guy sitting on the dais in our place," Flannigan said.

Another big issue: The Mobility Bond.  Flannigan is a supporter, Zimmerman is neutral.

In response to Flannigan's comment about property crime, Council Member Zimmerman says he's passionate about solving it but council has nothing do with police department policy even though they are supposed to have the final say.  He sent us a link to this video that speaks to his point

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