.

Blog: Public Service, Not Politics!

Mitch O'Farrell is a public servant, and candidate for Los Angeles City Council, 13th District. www.mitchforcitycouncil.org

My life in Los Angeles and the 13th District goes back 30 years when I moved to a crowded Hollywood apartment from Oklahoma, where I was born and raised.  It was a long held dream to come here and make my way in life.  Eventually I settled in the Glassell Park area in 1992.  Ironically enough, it was then that I became very familiar with Echo Park, Elysian Heights, and Silver Lake.  I volunteered for a number of years for Project Angel Food, and delivered meals to home bound clients who were living with life threatening illnesses.  My weekly route was "Northeast Los Angeles and Glendale".  Most of my clients were spread throughout the areas I would later work in as a Public Servant, beginning in 2002. That familiarity proved very useful.

Through the 1990's to 2002, I ran businesses; hiring, training, and managing staff, managing P & L's, inventory controls, and learned how to deal with the city and county bureacracy. I learned what it is like to pay bills, make payroll, and turn a profit.  I know what our small businesses struggle with every day.  I also know they are the backbone of our economy in Los Angeles.  Equally important for my future as a Public Servant, I learned what true customer service is; having empathy, and delivering everything to the best of ones ability in a caring, thoughtful, non-judgemental way.

By the time City Councilmember Eric Garcetti brought me aboard in 2002, I had also been very active in my community of Glassell Park. I had volunteered for years, organizing community clean ups, shutting down a narcotics and gang house, helping to get our recreation center rennovated, leading a city code enforcement program to clean up neglected and blighted properties, helping to found our Neighborhood Council, and serving as the President of the Glassell Park Improvement Association.

My nearly ten years working in the 13th District Council Office was something I loved doing every day of every week!  I was promoted 3 times: I started as a Field Deputy, then Deputy Director, District Director, then Senior Advisor.  I worked across the whole district, in every neighborhood.  In Echo Park I worked closely with numerous people and organizations.  Working together, here are some of our accomplishements: We created the Echo Park Farmers Market, made Echo Park Lake a historic landmark, then got it successfully accepted in the Prop O funding stream, resulting in a 67 million dollar rennovation. We also oversaw the rennovations of the boathouse from two separate grants that the office was able to secure.  We created the Echo Park Traffic Management plan on either side of the Sunset and Glendale corridors, which has significantly reduced cut through traffic in our residential neighborhoods. We convinced the foursquare gospel church to place their parking structure along Glendale and not decimate Lemoyne where they were going to originally place it.  We brought in a community design overlay zone, giving some protection to our historic core around the lake. We created filming guidelines (2nd in the city) to better regulate location filming which had gotten completely out of control. I was able to convice FEMA to make significant repairs to Elysian Park after some trails were badly damaged in the 04/05 floods.  

The entire time I have worked in the District, the city faced budget deficits; all ten years.  Year after year, I witnessed our core services being chipped away at, including a reduction in sidewalk repair and replacement, street resurfacing, and tree trimming.  Despite this, I was able to get the department to focus on the worst of the worst crumbling streets in Echo Park and Silver Lake, getting them resurfaced, and rebuild some of our worst sidewalks.  I was able to get several traffic signals installed across the District by the Department of Transportation too, including Glendale at Aaron, and especially left turn signals at Alvarado & Sunset, and Glendale South on to Allesandro.

However, merely being on staff has not allowed me to do enough!  Although I have the relationships in the city, can pull the levers of government to make things happen, and connect constituents with the specialists they need, I will be able to do so much more as your Councilmember.  You deserve someone who is focused, has a track record, has vision, knows the district, listens and responds, and will exhibit leadership on your behalf, every single time.  You deserve a leader who will be in the district every day, who will hire and train a staff that will uphold the highest standards for public service, and you deserve someone who will challenge the status quo when it will make this city better but who also knows how to negotiate with other leaders for the greater good.  No one else will bring this level of experience or determination to bear on your behalf.

This city 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.  We have lost some ground lately, but 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 one of those people and I am ready to take on any challenge! 

My next  2 public events:

1.  Fundraiser at Alegria Restaurant, Tuesday, May 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 3510 Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake 90026

2.  "Neighborhood Councils" - round table discussion at Taix Restaurant, Wednesday, May 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m., 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park 90026  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

CHRISTINE April 28, 2012 at 03:49 AM
If this was a college exam, this "blog" post would be considered the Cliff Notes on Mitch!! Too many accomplishments to fit on one page, but in a nutshell, Mitch will bring public service back to local politics. For too long our local government has been distracted by issues not their concern. Let's put the LOCAL back in politics, and let's start with local hero, Mitch O'Farrell!!! cp
CK April 28, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Mitch was helpful to me and my neighbors on many occasions. He put together the Echo Park Film District which set agreeable guidelines for Echo Park neighborhoods and the film industry. It was a godsend for many of us who live in the Echo Park oddities areas...people who live along staircases, walkways, etc. He worked hard and successfully to bring many disparate entities to the table to talk and work out something that worked for everyone. From the standpoint of a local yokel regular citizen (me), Mitch has always made himself available to hear my neighborhood concerns and issues. He isn't what you think of as a typical government official, he is real, picks up the phone, emails me back, asks good questions and actually takes action. I honestly cannot think of anyone better to represent our community. Thanks for all you've done, Mitch!
Observer April 28, 2012 at 05:03 AM
CD 13 will be in good hands with Mitch O'Farrell at the helm. Solid experience serves community well. Glad you are not afraid at taking a closer look at Neighborhood Councils and their drain on scant City resources and soul of community. Thank you for serving community meaningfully.
Dave p April 28, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Mitch is a class act, I would be grateful to have him as my councilman.
Anthea Raymond (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Thanks everyone for weighing in. It will be a very exciting race I think!
cindylu April 28, 2012 at 03:34 PM
There is no better person to represent this district than Mitch O'Farrell. He's passionate and compassionate; intelligent and wise; down-to earth and humble; not afraid to rollup his sleeves and tackle the tough issues. Mitch is not a politician, he's a LEADER.
Steven W April 29, 2012 at 12:53 AM
WE, the residents of Los Angeles deserve the BEST representation, we all deserve a representative that is truly a public servant with a proven track record of delivering goods and services in the areas they want to represent. We are so fortunate to have all of this, and more, in Mitch O'Farrell. For too long, many of our representatives do so with their next job in mind, not the task at hand, this will no longer work as the problems that need addressing are too big. Someone has to be minding the store--MITCH IS THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR DISTRICT 13. Steven W.
Craig Collins April 29, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Yes it's a long list of what he's already done, but he's not mentioned some very important accomplishments of late: specifically, the opening of the Silver Lake Meadow, which in just a year has become a stunning success and a vital resource for the health and enjoyment of our community. Without the hard work and perseverance of Mitch and others in the Council offices, this simply would not have happened. There's many other examples of how Mitch provides calm guidance that gets things done, but that one accomplishment alone speaks volumes about his approach to representation of our community.
Carol N. April 30, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Some years ago I saw in Mitch the qualities I sought in the person I wanted to represent my community and myself. As many have already said, he combines the abilities of taking care of immediate issues, navigating city hall, addressing community as well as broader ideas that affect our quality of life. He is not a "politician" who is only using this position as a springboard to other political offices. I have encouraged Mitch to take on this role and am very pleased that he has chosen to do so. He's by far the best candidate to represent CD13.

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