District 6: Zimmerman Out, Flannigan In

Victory swept over the race well before the final tally, keeping supporters in high spirits throughout the night. Early voting results showed Flannigan solidly ahead.


Jimmy Flannigan celebrates a win in District 6. (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

District 6: Zimmerman Out, Flannigan In

To a cheering crowd at Serranos Tex-Mex in Northwest Austin, a notably loquacious Jimmy Flannigan admitted he was at a rare loss for words. "To have the honor of representing all of you and everyone in District 6, it's really something that has left me speechless," he said. "I couldn't be more excited for the journey we're about to take together."

Victory swept over the race well before the final tally, keeping supporters in high spirits throughout the night. Early voting results showed Flannigan solidly ahead, with 57.7% to incumbent Don Zimmerman's 42.3%. The win, as Flannigan noted during his address, is a historic one: Flannigan stands as the first victor over a 10-1 incumbent; the first Williamson County resident on the dais; and the first gay man to serve on City Council.

Before the final results were called, Zim­mer­man conceded defeat, ending a tumultuous and tense Council era for the district. (The Chronicle did not attend Zimmer­man's campaign party after campaign manager Tim Kelly banned this reporter from entering the field office premises.) In many ways, the win can be considered a referendum on Zimmer­man's abrasive and even abusive demeanor on and off the dais, and on his council tenure overall. Zimmerman made headlines for attacking city staff, council guests, and even a group of Latino students whom he told to do something "useful" with their lives. His many vote abstentions and his "taxpayer-friendly" persona, in contrast to the several taxpayer-funded lawsuits he's brought, have also likely embittered district voters.

"I think this election is a mandate that shows that District 6 wants to work across the city and not be considered some other area that can just vote 'no' or abstain from votes and think everything is going to be okay," Flannigan told the Chronicle, following his victory speech.

Flannigan supporters expressed disappointment in Zimmerman's leadership style. The words "divisive" and "embarrassment" crept into conversations. "Zimmerman did nothing for our district. He did nothing to create consensus or to get things done," said D6 voter Alison Woss. "He acted solely for himself and not for constituents. And his personal views of LGBTQ people, immigration, climate change – to borrow a term from Hillary Clinton – is deplorable."

“I think this is a mandate that shows that District 6 wants to work across the city and not be considered some other area that can just vote ‘no’ or abstain from votes and think everything is going to be okay,” said Flannigan.

Flannigan tells the Chronicle his first priorities as a new member will be holding public meetings on Anderson Mill Road to ensure that those who live along the road see their needs met, and focusing on hiring a new city manager, an important decision, he says, that will "far outlive" all of the members' time on Council.

Over whistles and claps, Flannigan thanked his campaign staff, volunteers, canvassers, his partner, and the grassroots effort that led to his win. "It's difficult to beat an incumbent – even a terrible one," he told the Chronicle. "There were many parts of the city that decided they just couldn't get involved because they were afraid of the bully council member, but that's no way to operate democracy. Thankfully people that had never volunteered, never block-walked, never put up yard signs, came out and made a difference. And today we get to celebrate their efforts."

Zimmerman issued a statement on the loss on Wednesday. "For one," he said, "supporters of lower taxes and fewer regulations will have to work harder and organize better if we're to represent the taxpayers fairly in future elections. This I know we can do if we put our talents and resources together. Secondly, it's going to get very expensive to live here, and very soon. It won't be long before our political opponents will understand what we've been saying all along about the burgeoning size and scope of city government into our daily lives."

READ MORE
More Jimmy Flannigan
Quote of the Week
Quote of the Week
They really said that?

Jan. 13, 2017

The Business of Pride
The Business of Pride
AGLCC's prez ponders the pitfalls of a complacent gay place

Kate X Messer, June 5, 2009

More News Reviews
Call an UberCop©
Call an UberCop©

Nick Barbaro, April 1, 2016

SXSWedu Recap
SXSWedu Recap
Education tech finds new ways to reach kids

Richard Whittaker, March 11, 2016

More by Mary Tuma
“Cruel” Anti-Abortion SB 8 Sent to Gov’s Desk to Become Law
Anti-Choice Bill Goes to Guv
Expect a court challenge over "unconstitutional" bill

May 26, 2017

Margaret Moore on ICE
Margaret Moore on ICE
The D.A. wants to work with ICE to ensure victim and criminal witness safety

May 26, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Jimmy Flannigan, Don Zimmerman, November 2016 Election

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)