Mitch O’Farrell’s life in Los Angeles and the 13th District goes back 30 years when he moved from Oklahoma where he was born and raised, to a crowded Hollywood apartment. It was the fulfillment of a long held dream. After a career in acting on the stage and musical theatre, he settled in the Glassell Park area in 1992 with his life partner George Brauckman. Ironically enough, it was then that Mitch became very familiar with Silver Lake! He volunteered for a number of years for Project Angel Food, and delivered meals to home bound clients who were living with life threatening illnesses. Most of his clients were spread throughout the areas he would later work in as a public servant, beginning in 2002. That familiarity proved very useful.
Through the 1990’s to 2002, he was a business operator; responsible for hiring, training, and managing staff, managing P & L’s, inventory controls, and learned how to deal with the city and county bureaucracy. He learned what it is like to pay bills, make payroll, and turn a profit. Mitch learned what small businesses struggle with every day and knows they are the backbone of our economy in Los Angeles. Equally important for his future as a public servant, he learned what true customer service is: having empathy, and delivering everything to the best of ones ability in a caring, thoughtful, non-judgmental way.
By the time City Councilmember Eric Garcetti brought him aboard in 2002, he had been very active in the community of Glassell Park where he had volunteered for years, organizing community clean ups, shutting down a narcotics and gang house, helping to get the recreation center renovated, leading a city code enforcement program to clean up neglected and blighted properties, helping to found the Neighborhood Council, and serving as the President of the Glassell Park Improvement Association.
Working in the 13th District Council Office for nearly ten years was something he loved doing every day of every week! He was promoted 3 times: starting as a Field Deputy, then Deputy Director, District Director, then Senior Advisor. Mitch worked across the whole district, in every neighborhood. When funding for the Silver Lake Meadow was under threat because of a delay in completing the project, he stepped in and cleared the roadblock (literally, a large stand of cypress shrubs had to be removed but he had to first make sure no wildlife would be affected). The Meadow was dedicated on time and is a signature attraction at the Lake where families gather and children frolic barefoot! Mitch set in motion the site selection for the Silver Lake Library. Working closely with community leaders he; put the plan in place and facilitated the working group for the Sunset Junction Streetscape improvements (construction beginning by early 2013), made sure the Streets for People Project at Triangle Park was the first one in the city, commemorated the Mattachine Steps where Pioneer Harry Hay lived and began the first LGBT organization in the United States, and facilitated the historic designation of the Black Cat Bar on Sunset Boulevard, site of the first LGBT protests in the United States.
The entire time he worked in the District, the city faced budget deficits; all ten years. Year after year, core services were chipped away at, including a reduction in sidewalk repair and replacement, street resurfacing, and tree trimming. Despite this, Mitch was able to get the department to focus on the worst of the worst crumbling streets in Silver Lake and across the District, getting them resurfaced, and replaced miles of the worst sidewalks.
After Eric Garcetti was elected mayor of Los Angeles on May 21, 2013, O’Farrell succeeded him and was elected to office onon May 21, 2013. In an interview prior to his election, Mitch stated, “Los Angeles faces some daunting challenges; a culture of complacency at our building and safety and planning counters. A constant budget deficit no one is addressing in a structural way, traffic and transit challenges that erode our quality of life and a general sense from residents and business owners that no one in the city cares; that responsibility is avoided, and decisions are made based on politics. My vision of the district is that we are part of a city that is firing on all cylinders; that we have our fiscal house in order, we fill our potholes and resurface our streets on time, that we keep our planning, zoning, and land use house in order, that we not only create beautiful parks and public amenities, but that we can maintain them, keep them staffed, and funded, and that we continue our progress on public safety. I believe it is our destiny to achieve greatness as a world-class city, as a society, and as a District. But that cannot happen without the right people at the helm, making tough decisions, but thinking creatively about new solutions. I am ready to take on any challenge with your support!”