AUSTIN, TEXAS - No Austin City Council Member has been at the center of controversy more than Don Zimmerman.
From his record of abstaining on votes during meetings to the two lawsuits he's filed suing the city over ballot language and the campaign finance rules.
"This Austin City government is really assaulting our personal liberties. They're violating the constitutional rule of law to impose an ideological agenda," Zimmerman said.
Then there are the things he's said, most recently making comments to a group of Hispanic students who were speaking to council about the budget.
"When you grow up, I want to ask you to pledge to finish school, learn a trade, a skilled trade, get a college education, start a business, do something useful and produce something in your society so you don't have to live off others," Zimmerman said as the crowd booed.
They are comments he says he doesn't regret making.
"The things I've said are true and I still stand by them. I haven't changed any positions or remarks," said Zimmerman. "I will say that there's a political agenda to misrepresent the things that I've said but anytime I get my comments as said, in context, I generally win more votes than I lose."
He's also been a strong critic of the council, saying, "I've really been surprised at how impotent the city council is overall."
Still, he's asking voters to let him serve four more years.
"I have a lot of support around this city in other districts because they look at me as the one voice of reason," said Zimmerman. "I take an analytical approach to problem solving. I ask the questions that other people won't ask and I think they think of me as an investigator and a watch dog on city council."
His opponent in the election, Jimmy Flannigan, disagrees.
"I knew that he would get into City Hall and be a bully, I knew that he would grandstand about ideology. I knew that he wouldn't be able to get anything done," Flannigan said.
The web developer lost to Zimmerman in the 2014 runoff by 191 votes, but Flannigan said he never stopped working for the district, so he's challenging Zimmerman again.
"I continued to work with my Northwest Austin Coalition with my citizen led corridor study for Anderson Mill Road which then led to that road being included in Mayor Adler's transportation bond," said Flannigan.
Both men agree traffic congestion is the most serious problem facing District 6. But they don't see eye-to-eye on the mobility bond. Flannigan supports it while Zimmerman said he is neutral but will vote against it.
They also have different ideas on how to fix congestion.
"When we think about the future of transportation it is about public transit, it is about bike lanes, it is about sidewalks, it is about building housing that's closer to the things people want to do and where they work, it's not about sprawl," said Flannigan. "My opponent is a big proponent of sprawl."
"We should have another bond that says look, we need to let voters choose how they want to allocate their money. We do have people who want more bicycle trails and sidewalks. Great, there's nothing wrong with that. The issue is that's not our top priority," said Zimmerman.
"If people reelect me and send me back, there's a decent chance that we'll start to see movement on getting an expressway in the western part of the city. If they elect my opponent, it absolutely positively will not happen," Zimmerman added.
Opponents, each claiming to know what's best; leaving the voters to decide who's right.
Click here to read more about Don Zimmerman, incumbent
Click here to read more about Jimmy Flannigan
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