Councilmember Don Zimmerman defends District 6 seat from challenger Jimmy Flannigan

Sarah Philips

The Austin City Council race for District 6 is heating up as incumbent Don Zimmerman and challenger Jimmy Flannigan trade criticisms of the other’s temperament.

Zimmerman, who is often the single “nay” vote in 10-1 council decisions, said Flannigan aligns too much with the rest of City Council and is not fiscally conservative enough for their district.

“If you want to avoid bankruptcy, there’s a clear choice,” Zimmerman said. “I’m going to keep working on getting the costs down. It’s not partisan for me. It’s partisan for my opponent.”

However, Flannigan said Zimmerman’s attitude to policy is unwanted by constituents in the district.

“My opponent has gone out of his way to insult people, to be belligerent, even beyond his policy agreement, [is in] denial of climate change [and claims] that there is no racism,” Flannigan said. “Municipal issues are not Democratic or Republican. There aren’t Republican or Democratic roads. The people want to see [council members who] get things done, who just don’t want another angry voice.”

University Democrats have offered to volunteer for the Flannigan campaign, with members blockwalking for the City Council candidate Saturday.

David Bemporad, an economics junior and UDems treasurer, said the organization is supporting Flannigan because he represents District 6 better than Zimmerman’s “conservative” views.

“I think that Flannigan, with his community-oriented background, better represents the people of District 6 better, because it’s a 50-50 district,” Bemporad said, referring to District 6’s past bipartisan voting record in presidential elections. “He’s a very moderate person, but Zimmerman is a hard-line conservative. Zimmerman has not represented his district correctly being a gung-ho conservative.”

Bemporad said Flannigan, a gay man who served as the president of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, will also increase diversity on the council.

“University Democrats is a huge proponent of diversity, and a gay male elected to City Council would be a huge plus for the entire city of Austin,” Bemporad said.

Zimmerman said he represents the fiscally conservative perspective, which is why he splits from the rest of the council on decisions. 

“My opponent criticizes me because I don’t get along with the bureaucracy, and he’s right,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t agree with the bureaucracy and council majority.”

College Republicans could not be reached for comment on the race. 

City Council races are not partisan races, but Flannigan has been endorsed by more than a dozen Democratic organizations, and Zimmerman has served as the precinct chair for the Travis County Republican Party. 

Voters in District 6 will be able to cast a ballot for Zimmerman or Flannigan on Nov. 8. Early voting begins on Oct. 24 and will end Nov. 4. Voters must have previously registered to vote.