District 6: Waiting for the Next Subpoena

D6:  The first round was a three-way nail-biter between Don Zimmerman, Jimmy Flannigan, and Jay Wiley. If Zimmerman can pick up fellow Republican Jay Wiley’s 23%, he should breeze through the run-off. But his extreme views and personal issues may turn off enough voters to give Flannigan a shot in this most-Republican of the city’s Council districts.
D6: The first round was a three-way nail-biter between Don Zimmerman, Jimmy Flannigan, and Jay Wiley. If Zimmerman can pick up fellow Republican Jay Wiley’s 23%, he should breeze through the run-off. But his extreme views and personal issues may turn off enough voters to give Flannigan a shot in this most-Republican of the city’s Council districts.

Jimmy Flannigan vs. Don Zimmerman

Jimmy Flannigan
Jimmy Flannigan

To a degree, Don Zimmerman's profile parallels D4's Laura Pressley. Both have scientific backgrounds – Zimmerman, as he often notes, is an engineer – and both are confident in their ability to reach their own conclusions, however bizarre some of those might seem. But unlike Pressley, Zim­mer­man doesn't seem to be trying to refashion himself as a moderate for this particular race. Of the 10 districts, 6 is perhaps the most conservative, and Republicans Zim­mer­man and Jay Wiley (who ran a close third) both performed solidly.

Yet Zimmerman is not the same brand of Republican as Wiley (or Greg Abbott). He is literally "Tea Party" (having once organized a tea-dumping in Lady Bird Lake), touts his endorsement by former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, reminds potential donors that he's the only candidate who accepts Bitcoin, and has been a guest on The Crypto Show, which, according to its website, "has a new vision for liberty-minded people: crypto-anarchism. Abandoning the model of 'waking up' 51% of the fat-bellied uninterested and distracted public, The Crypto Show crew hope to inspire the smartest 1% to create open-source, distributed systems of resistance to render the state irrelevant through technology and encryption."

Don Zimmerman
Don Zimmerman

As Zimmerman's opponent, Jimmy Flannigan, likes to point out, Zimmer­man also has a penchant for "governance by lawsuit." He's loudly proud of a couple of his legal victories – he often crows that he's the only candidate who successfully challenged a property tax, on behalf of the far-northwest Canyon Creek MUD – but those aren't his only lawsuits. He's currently embroiled in a legal action against the online Austin Bulldog, which published documented details of his custody battle for his only daughter, which included allegations of paternal abuse and a consequent court order granting sole custody to the girl's mother.

There isn't enough space to recount every suit filed by Zimmerman, but one more is noteworthy: In 2012, he opposed Prop. 1, which raised property taxes in order to help fund UT-Austin's new medical school and related hospital. Unsuccessfully fighting implementation of the voters' approval, Zimmerman's lawyer argued that Prop. 1's ballot wording violated the Voting Rights Act, because the language was "too confusing" for minority voters to understand, since (according to the suit) they have lower reading comprehension than whites.

In contrast to Zimmerman, Jimmy Flannigan is very much a centrist. He sticks to pragmatic arguments, such as his solutions for traffic, which he considers the district's most serious problem. He lists proposals that include dedicated bus lanes and more thoughtful planning of future developments, in order to prevent even more reliance on commuting.

We'll know soon whether D6 voters prefer a moderate who happens to be a Democrat or a conservative who's unabashedly anti-government. In the meantime, we should probably call our lawyer.

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