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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Council District 13 staffer gives up job as he runs for office

Mitch O'Farrell

Mitch O’Farrell, a senior advisor working for Councilman Eric Garcetti, will leave his job next month as he runs in next year’s election to succeed his boss as Council District 13 representative. “When Eric and I first discussed this in November, he made it clear that it wouldn’t be possible for me to remain on his staff during a campaign for the office,” said O’Farrell, who has worked for Garcetti for nearly 10 years.  “I respect Eric’s decision because I respect Eric.”  Garcetti, whose district includes Echo Park and Silver Lake as well as Atwater Village and Glassell Park, is termed out of office and is running for mayor.

The decision on whether City Council staffers must resign if they run for elected office apparently varies by council district. For example, Jose A. Gardea, Chief of Staff to Councilman Ed Reyes, also wants to replace his boss, who is also termed out of office,  in next year’s Council District 1 election.  But, at least for now, Gardea has no plans to leave his job.   “My priority will continue to be how to best serve the residents of the First District,” Gardea said in a statement.  “Once the campaign begins in earnest I will base my decision on what is in the best interest of our constituents and this council office.”

Last year, Mitchell Englander, formerly Chief of Staff for San Fernando Valley Councilman Greig Smith, took a leave of absence when he ran a successful campaign to replace Smith as representative of Council District 12.

Julie Wong, spokeswoman for Garcetti, said that O’Farrell decided to run for office  “with the understanding that he would need to resign from his position with our staff in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest between his actions as a candidate and as a council staff member.”

Garcetti, in preparation for his bid for mayor, has stepped down as President of the City Council but has no intention of leaving his job as councilman, Wong said.

O’Farrell, a a former restaurant manager and actor and dancer,  joined Garcetti’s staff in August 2002. The Glassell Park resident has worked his way up from a field deputy to district director and currently serves as senior advisor on special projects.

“Over the next four weeks, I will do everything I can to make sure all the projects I am working on can be handled by other Garcetti staff members,” O’Farrell said via email. “I will then re-join the ranks of volunteers and stay very involved.”


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22 comments

  1. I guess this is what is meant by the term “career politicians.”

  2. Ruth, I agree and Mitch and I do not share much in political theory, but I have worked with Mitch when I was on the Echo Park neighborhood council and the one thing I can tell you, which is probably the most important qualification for a city councilman, is that Mitch is completely committed to constituent services and I think he would make a great councilman. He’s a good guy.

  3. Sad to hear that Mitch is “leaving”.
    No Cedillo, no De Leon, no “career politicians”.
    Go Mitch!!!!!!

  4. “Career Politician”… so what?

    People make and plan their lives out to suit the unreasonable demands of being public figures, under constant scrutiny, and in the line of fire of constant criticism… I don’t agree with all of them, but to call someone a “career politician” does little, in my humble opinion, to discredit them.

    I don’t necessarily distrust police officers any more because they’ve been policing all their lives…. I’ll distrust them all the same :)

  5. As a 100% Mitch supporter I can’t imagine Garcetti’s office will be able to function without him. Any credibility that office has is due to him and a few (very few), other field staff. The rest should resign and focus on Eric’s run for Mayor. Heck, Eric should resign if he’s running for Mayor??? Do As I say? Not as I do, Eric?!?!?
    Shameful.
    Eddie

    • Edina, having Garcetti resign now (when the next mayoral election isn’t until 2013) isn’t the most fiscally efficient option. Especially when it would place the burden on taxpayers to foot the bill for a special election to find his interim successor — who would then have to run again when the CD13 seat becomes vacant next year.

      • Will,

        You missed the point completely. Having Mitch resign now is also fiscally irresponsible. The campaign won’t really kick off until later in the year-for all candidates. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander (per Maria our local expert!). Which makes Eric a hypocrite.
        E.

  6. This is very sad news–Mitch leaving CD 13!
    In my professional life and through my volunteer efforts with the Hollywood Studio District NC, I deal with a handful of elected officials and many city staffers–no one’s words have matched their actions more than Mitch. Mitch has a very strong constitution and understanding of what it is to be “public servant”.
    When I have a problem, or know of someone who has a problem, I refer them to Mitch.
    I CAN’T IMAGE WHAT ERIC, OR ANY OF HIS ADVISORS ARE THINKING??? What better measure of your great leadership, than to have another great leader emerge out of your ranks, through his own their merits and his dedication to service!
    Again, I am sad, why have someone leave who is getting it right! MITCH, WE NEED YOU THERE TO CONTINUE THE WORK THAT WAS STARTED. I hope that Eric, and all his advisors understand that we like his office and want his staff to remain in tack, ESPECIALLY MITCH–we need all of their help!

    A very concerned voter!

    • You are so right Steven,
      What could they be thinking? In a year of transition, while Eric is campaigning for another office, WHY, would you upset the balance and lose your most seasoned staff person. Rather than be proud and supportive, (like CM Reyes for his potential successor Jose Gardea), he is being foolish and capricious. Nearly 10 years of dedicated service to his boss and his community and this is the treatment you get.
      This is a real setback for CD13. Now we have to wait until next year to have Mitch back where he belongs, in charge of CD 13.

      cp

  7. Just Wondering......

    Jesus, did Julie Wong issue a press release? Could you please share this information with your subscribers? Ms. Wong’s comments sound dismissive and hypocritical. How many times was Eric Garcetti fined by the city Ethic Commission? Would Ms. Wong care to comment?

  8. This knocks the wind out of me. Mitch O’Farrell is a talented, passionate and effective public servant who works tirelessly to help us with some of our most pressing concerns here in Hollywood. I cannot understand how our first-base man can leave the game and we can expect to make any progress on the issues he’s been helping us on!

  9. Mitch is only now becoming a politician. Up until now he’s been staff.

    He’s always been tops in constituent services, though.

  10. There has to be more to this story, but us mere mortals will never know.

    Let’s watch who Eric puts his support behind for the CD13 seat.

    • Yes indeed!

      But more importantly, let’s see who people put their support behind for Mayor? After this display of poor judgement on Eric’s part, I can’t but think it’s time for a strong woman–Maybe Ms. Greuel?????

      E.

    • my bet is on Matt Szabo, since he is fulling the Mayor’s needs … and will work nicely with wanna-be Mayor Garcetti. it will kinda be a “kill two birds with one stone” scenario.

  11. Obviously, there is no rule in this city or in this state or in this nation which requires a person resign from any position of employment simply because they chose to seek public office as a candidate in a democratic election.

    It would follow that whereever the courts have jurisdiction over determining the fairness of conditions under which an employer terminates an employee, that termination solely as a result of an employees intent to seek election to office would be unfair. The only scenario which I can imagine this kind of rule being practiced might be for active members of the U.S. military.

    All that said, if Mitch O’Farrell has freely decided to resign his employment in the council office and he and Councilman Garcetti have decided that this is how they wish to present it to the public – then I guess that is their right to do so.

  12. You raise a good point about other Council staff such as Mitch Englander. As I recall, Englander took his leave from CD-12 much later than O’Farrell, toward the end of 2010 for a March 2011 election.

    It would be more appropriate for O’Farrell to stay on until much later in the year. This is especially important with Garcetti focusing on his own run for office – Who is minding the store?

    O’Farrell has been very loyal to Garcetti and more importantly, he has worked tirelessly for the constituents of CD-13.

    • nobody is “minding” the store. once O’Farrel leaves and Garcetti focuses on his mayoral run, it will be a free-for-all situation. there is little to no time to have a new person come up to speed on things, but i guess that is exactly what Mr. Wannebe Mayor likes. the only responsible person in that office is Mr. O’, but once he leaves, so will the only ethics and integrity that office has.

  13. Agreed. Mitch has been the balanced and committed force on Garcetti’s staff and we are all going to miss him the moment he leaves the office.

    So, if we all feel that way I’d say let’s focus on getting him elected. Put out the word and join with him. Personally, he will be the first political candidate that I have directly supported. This is because I have experienced his thoughtful and committed approach.

    I am curious to see how Mitch will be when he is completely his own man and I guess the campaign (and hopefully elected office) will tell the story…

  14. Mitch, as a senior advisor in CD 13, has demonstrated the ability to bring principals to the table of all levels of government, law enforcement and community to resolve amongst others, issues relating to gang crime, chronic graffiti locations, identifying those with resonsibility for L.A. River safety and maintenance as well as helping Echo Park reign in agressive film production companies from over-running our streets and parking.

  15. Echo Park resident

    Mitch O’Farrell, you got my vote!!

  16. I would agree that it seems premature to require Mitch to resign to focus on his campaign, however it does give him time to learn the campaign process. Mitch is not a “career politician”, but he does have the constituent services experience that will serve him well. He has consistently been one of the most responsive and dedicated members of Eric Garcetti’s staff and I have appreciated his ability to follow through on projects and to get them done! I am a big supporter and cannot think of a more qualified person to take over the reins of CD13.

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