Former city council member to challenge incumbent Goodwin
By LESLEE BASSMAN, LYNETTE HAALAND
Former District 6 Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman confirmed Thursday he is running for Texas House District 47. The position is currently held by Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, who unseated Paul Workman, a longtime Republican representative from Spicewood, last November.
“The main thing is that the traffic congestion is out of control as everyone knows,” Zimmerman said in an interview with Four Points News on Thursday. “We need a loop around Austin. It’s the primary reason I’m running for this office.”
Zimmerman served on the council from 2015-17 and was a part of the first dais that sat in the 10-1 format. In that capacity, he represented the Four Points area.
In an April 21 post on his Facebook page, Zimmerman stated that he was prompted to run for the position by Workman who informed him that he would not run for re-election in the district. Zimmerman also stated he asked Ellen Troxclair if she would be campaigning for the seat but discovered the former Austin City Council member was not so inclined.
“So I’m throwing my hat in the ring,” Zimmerman said in the post.
He said he will continue to campaign against tax increases “while working toward tax relief” as well as decreasing traffic congestion, efforts the mechanical engineer believes will be “far more effective from a seat in the Texas Legislature.”
At the state level, he says he will “move past the city of Austin” politics and work to get things done with entities including the Texas Department of Transportation.
With his engineering background, he believes he is uniquely qualified to understand many of the issues with Austin’s congestion.
He says he has a meeting with TxDOT next week, and in about two weeks he will announce more details about a proposed loop around Austin.
“We can pay for it without raising taxes and with existing money,” Zimmerman said. “We need to override local government to get the freeway loop we need.”
Zimmerman is critical of the current city leadership. He calls them “obstructionists”.
City and county leaders want to develop a dense downtown and “force” people into the center city, he explains.
“It’s the city of Austin’s and the county’s political agenda to weaponize traffic congestion,” Zimmerman said. “I’m against the use of traffic congestion to force us to change our lives.”
He says Austin leaders are trying to use congestion as a political tool for behaviour change.
“They don’t want traffic relief, and they use it to (ultimately) get people out of private cars and into the highly dense population cores (of Austin),” he said.
The filing deadline to run for the state office is December. Primaries are in March and the election is in November.
Zimmerman expects his campaign fundraising to be in first place on the mid year report, he said.