Photo by city of Austin
Jimmy Flannigan: Taking care of unfinished business
Wednesday, January 6, 2021 by Daniel Salazar
Since losing to Mackenzie Kelly in Northwest Austin’s District 6 runoff election, City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan has focused on keeping his head down, continuing to work and trying to “figure out what’s next.”
“There’s a lot of work that you do as a Council member hoping that you get a second term – a lot of unfinished business,” Flannigan said. “And I still want to see that business finished. I don’t know what that’s going to mean functionally, but that’s where my head is at.”
Now he says what’s next is a new job – as the new president of Austin Convention Enterprises Inc., the local government corporation that oversees the city-owned Hilton Austin hotel. The position is “quasi-connected” to the city, “so I will still be leveraging my skills and what I learned in the job to still fulfill a public purpose, which is still what drives me.”
Reflecting back on the year, Flannigan said the pandemic dramatically altered how public engagement and testimony was handled in his day-to-day job.
“It gave folks a different perspective on the challenges of the day, and it created an environment where more people saw that systems were broken than assumed were broken before,” he said.
Flannigan said the city “did not shy away” from taking on the most challenging issues of the pandemic that highlighted long-standing inequities in the community.
“I think Austin, as a whole, did as best as it could do given the conflicting messages being sent by the governor and the president,” he said.
“I’m proud of the work that we did and that I did kind of creating systems to help as many people survive as we could, given the limited resources.”
He pointed to city efforts to help vendors and small businesses hurt by the cancellation of the South by Southwest festival, as well as child care and nonprofit support for residents financially impacted by the pandemic.
“We were, as a city, more efficient in getting dollars out the door than other jurisdictions that we learned about,” Flannigan said. “I’m really proud of that.”
He’s also proud of the police reform work City Council took on this year.
“We listened to the tens of thousands of people that marched and we got to work,” he said. “We didn’t ignore them.”
And he was pleased with the opening of the new municipal court in April.
“It was the type of thing that Councils before us knew was a problem, but no one ever made it happen,” he said. “I really cherish that work.”
When asked what he was most looking forward to in 2021, Flannigan responded, “Vaccine, baby!”
“Can I go out and have a drink with somebody now? Please, for the love of God – just to hang out at a coffee shop again,” Flannigan said, chuckling. “That is the number-one thing everybody should be looking forward to.”
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