AUSTIN - For some people, being defeated in an election is enough of a reason not to run again. But Jimmy Flannigan is not one of those people.
“The hard work that I've done in the district over the last few years, even before the election in 2014, that work didn't end because of one election,” said Flannigan.
He faced incumbent Don Zimmerman in a runoff for the District 6 Austin City Council seat back in 2014. Flannigan lost by 191 votes.
“Frankly, I knew who my opponent was. 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. And frankly, because of the work I had done in 2014, in meeting my community and going to the neighborhoods, talking to voters, I felt that I needed to continue the work. And that's exactly what I did. I continued the 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. And that's the type of work I want to bring to City Hall.”
“There's a problem in the District 6 seat right now and that problem is a failure to execute. It's a failure to find the votes on council and it's a failure to engage the community. I've waited patiently the last two years to see if my opponent could do something good, could get over his ideology, if he could get over his temperament problems. But he could not, in fact, they got worse. And so that's why I continued the work and that's why I'm running again.”
Flannigan moved to Austin 20 years ago to attend the University of Texas where he graduated with a BBA in Management Information Systems.
“[I] started my small business building websites for other small businesses and non-profit groups, then I got involved in the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and I ran that for 10 years. And that's how I got involved in municipal issues. And I started to see how issues that affect local and small businesses, like permitting and code enforcement and traffic issues, how those issues were frankly, not getting addressed correctly. They were not getting fixed, we were going to meeting after meeting after meeting, complaining about the same problems, seeing none of those problems getting resolved,” said Flannigan. “So there was a long time when I thought I need to be in those council chambers helping solve these problems but under the old system, under the at-large system, there was no way a guy from Williamson County was going to serve on City Council.”
After voters passed a resolution to create a council elected based on geographic representation, Flannigan went to work.
“So when the districts passed, that's when I co-founded my Northwest Austin Coalition group to advocate on what those maps needed to look like and we succeeded in keeping Williamson County together in a single council district. And then, of course, I ran two years ago because my part of town doesn’t have a voice, it hasn't had a voice before and it doesn't have a voice now. What we have now is someone who yells and screams and bullies but doesn't get anything done. And that is not a voice that represents my district.”
ON THE ISSUES
Q: Are you for or against Proposition 1, Austin’s Mobility Bond, and why?
“I'm definitely in support of Mayor Adler's transportation bond and not just because my citizen-led corridor study got Anderson Mill Road included in that project, but because the bulk of that bond are vetted, community input led corridor studies and public input meetings over the last five to six years
that have dictated with a lot of collaboration and a lot of work from neighborhoods and citizens and experts, what we want to see on these congested corridors. And that applies both to roads in District 6 like Parmer Lane and the Four Points intersection and Anderson Mill, and to the other corridors in the city. I always remind my District 6 friends, we drive on those roads too. It's not as simple as saying 'build a wall at District 6 and make City Hall pay for it.' We are using all of the resources across the City of Austin. We are one city, we are not just 10 districts and this bond addresses a lot of the transportation concerns across the whole city.”
Q: What action do you believe the city needs to take to address traffic congestion?
“Nobody thinks this one bond is going to magically solve our traffic problems. This is about getting to a baseline. This is about catching up after a generation of failing to build all of the transportation infrastructures that we know we need. We look into the future and we have to acknowledge that you can't simply pave your way out of this problem. How many neighborhoods would you have to tear down to build enough roads, to put in enough cars to serve the people in Leander and Cedar Park? Because District 6 knows that when we don't serve communities in the city, those communities end up in Cedar Park and Leander and they're driving on District 6 roads. So 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. My opponent is a big proponent of sprawl and just keep building as far as the eye can see. But that is a way to drive this city into bankruptcy, literally drive this city into bankruptcy because you end up building roads and water pipes and electric and all the other infrastructure. But if I build more housing on Lamar, I don't have to build another road. I don't have to build another water pipe. I've got existing infrastructure there, so it's not as simple as where does the next road go...it's also about where you build the next house.”
Q: How can the city increase affordability related to the cost of houses in Austin?
“District 6 is the fastest growing district in the city and we still have land that's getting turned into apartment complexes, especially around the Lakeline Station where the redline goes, but there's plenty of opportunities around corridors in this town, partly that will be helped by the transportation bond. But you can think about North Lamar and on one side of that street you've got Midtown commons, three stories of apartments and retail and it’s right at the train station. And then the other side of Lamar is underutilized strip malls, empty parking lots, one-story warehouses. Those warehouses don't need to be on North Lamar. They should be out on 130 and we should be building housing along these corridors that already have the supportive infrastructure necessary to support those future residents. That's how we're going to move this city forward and build the housing stock we need to address affordability and reduce the cost of expanding our transportation infrastructure because we don't and we shouldn't just pave everything that we see.”
Q: The Martin Prosperity Institute found Austin is the “most economically segregated major metro area in the U.S.,” how do you propose Austin address this?
“That is a problem that is bigger than one city. There are a lot of issues when we talk about economic segregation and one of those issues is housing and making sure we're not just building housing in one part of town and making sure we're not just building affordable housing in one part of town. My opponent likes to block every affordable housing project that comes before the council and in fact a few years ago...he fought affordable housing comparing affordable housing to rape. Comparing affordable housing to rape. That is no solution to anything much less economic segregation. We have to build all types of housing, we can't just build multi-million dollar mansions out on the lake and we can’t just build apartment complexes in Round Rock or Georgetown where the costs of transportation are higher. Where if you go and live that far out, yeah your rent might be lower but I guarantee you're paying more for gas and maintenance on your car. We have to build more types of housing, we have to build more housing overall and we have to build that housing in all parts of Austin.”
Q: What do you believe is the biggest need of the residents in District 6?
“Well obviously traffic, like we've been talking about, is the biggest issue. And there's a lot of things we've already discussed about traffic. But the second issue I want to talk about for District 6 is property crime. District 6 faces one of the highest property crime rates in the city. We also have some of the fewest APD patrols. And there are good reasons for that. If you’re allocating your police resources, you're putting it towards where the violent crime is before you put it where the property crime is. But what I want to see District 6 do, and what I want to see APD do, is expand its civilian efforts. To expand civilian staff at APD, which are cheaper to recruit, cheaper to train, cheaper to retain, and can more actively support neighborhood watch efforts, education efforts in the district. The number one property crime in District 6 is burglary of a vehicle, people leaving their valuables in plain sight in a car. I don’t' need a highly paid, trained, badged, armed officer to drive an hour from the Parmer Lane substation all the way out to Lakeline Mall to take a report on a stolen laptop. There are better ways to use our police resources which represent nearly 50 percent of the city budget is police alone. We have to get smarter about how we use these police resources that can help District 6 address its property crime, much like my citizen-led efforts on Anderson Mill Road, where we've got some resources internally to the district, some advantages internally to the district where we can start to take on some of our own issues. While all of that's been going on, my opponent's chaired the Public Safety Committee, has not held one meeting about how to make the police department more efficient, how to make the police department serve District 6 better . No, he's wasted his time on fluoride meetings and coyote traps. That is not how city government should be working and it’s certainly not what District 6 wants.”
Q: On a lighter note, Austinites like to believe we live in the “Live Music Capitol of the World,” so tell us, what’s your favorite song?
"The Eyes of Texas" by Lewis Johnson
MORE ON JIMMY FLANNIGAN
- Occupation: Web Developer
- Education: UT Austin: BBA in Management Information Systems
- Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas
- Years in Austin: 20
- Mobility Bond: For
Jimmy Flannigan has received endorsements from the following organizations/individuals:
AFLCIO Austin AFSCME Local 1624
Austin Area Sierra Club Austin Environmental Democrats
Austin Progressive Coalition Austin Young Democrats Bike Austin Black Austin Democrats Central Austin Democrats Capital Area Progressive Democrats Clean Water Action Democratic Women of Wilco
IBEW Local 520 Left Up To Us
Liberal Austin Democrats LiUNA! Austin
North by Northwest Democrats Stonewall Democrats
Texas Alliance for Retired Americans Austin TODO Austin Travis County Democratic Party University Democrats West Austin Democrats Western Wilco Dems Club Williamson County Democratic Party Williamson County Young Democrats
Workers Defense Action Fund Victory
To Read More About Jimmy Flannigan, go here.
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