Campaign Snapshots

City Council Districts 5 and 6

Campaign Snapshots

District 6

7pm, Tuesday, Sept. 23
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline, 14028 U.S. 183 N.

This farthest northwest district is often cited as the one most likely to elect a conservative – in 2012, it was the only one of the 10 which went for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. The number of conservatives in the race bears that out: Of the six candidates, four boast Republican credentials.

Of those, Jay Wiley is the presumptive conservative frontrunner. He has the imprimatur of the state's GOP establishment, for whatever that's worth in Austin: Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott himself joined Wiley on a campaign block walk, Wiley has served as aide to a variety of Republicans, from George W. Bush to Phil Gramm, and he is a precinct chair for the Travis County Republican Party. Wiley has made his opposition to Austin's bag ban a centerpiece of his campaign – he considers it an example of unnecessary government regulation.

While Wiley has the establishment GOP credentials (and the Austin Texas Tea Party's endorsement), Don Zimmerman boasts that he's the only candidate "whose leadership actually abolished a property tax" (which refers to a 2010 lawsuit concerning the Canyon Creek MUD). Zimmerman's laser focus on lowering taxes and his leadership as part of the Travis County Taxpayers Union – which notoriously compared taxation to rape – may well attract voters who are dissatisfied with current GOP leadership. Like Zimmerman, District 6 has shown strong opposition to the past two years' affordable housing bonds, voting against both the 2012 and 2013 propositions.

The remaining GOP candidates are Pete Phillips Jr. and Mackenzie Kelly. Phillips, a former Marine, has experience in national security and counterterrorism, while Kelly, a former volunteer firefighter, touts her work on incorporating social media into disaster prevention. Both are doing their part to disprove the adage "politics is showbiz for ugly people": Phillips was recently named one of Austin Monthly's 2014 Bach­elors (one assumes the "most eligible" is implied), and fitness buff Kelly lists her occupations as "model [and] disaster scientist."

Of the two Democrats, Matt Stillwell, an insurance broker and the 2012 Dem nominee for Texas House District 136, entered the race with the greater name recognition, but small businessman Jimmy Flan­nigan has racked up nearly all of the local club endorsements. He says the endorsements are proof that he's the candidate best ready to work with the rest of Coun­cil and the city to make sure that the specific concerns of District 6 are addressed under the new system. Both Stillwell and Flannigan are moderate Democrats; Flan­ni­gan is more of a policy wonk, ready to discuss specific details of his proposals, while Stillwell can sometimes seem as though he's still determining what he plans to propose.

As a commuter district, D6 feels acutely the sting of Austin's traffic problems. It's the largest district and has the lowest population density, although its rate of population growth is the highest of the 10. Other issues include a severe lack of sidewalks; homeowner concern about property taxes and property crime; and a sense of disconnection from the rest of Austin: Anderson Mill, the largest portion of the district, was annexed in 2008, and River Place is still undergoing annexation.

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