City councilman-elect Mitch O’Farrell addressed a small number of reporters and campaign supporters on the steps of City Hall this morning to discuss his top priorities for Council District 13 and also the contentious campaign with rival John Choi.
“CD 13 is on the rise,” said O’Farrell, who will replace his former boss, term-out councilman and now mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, as representative of a district that includes Atwater, Echo Park, Silver Lake and portions of Hollywood. “It’s a place people all over the world will come to make a better life for themselves.
Some of the major points that came out of his address this morning:
- The former Garcetti staffer – who promised to fill pot holes, clean the streets and resolve other quality of life issues- targeted the East Hollywood and Echo Park segments of Council District 13 for infrastructure improvement.
- He denied the allegations of electoral fraud by the Choi camp, and his campaign staff said they haven’t been contacted by officials regarding the matter.
- Campaign manager Renee Nahum said no one from Choi’s campaign has contacted their office.
- The candidate elect planned on reigning in run-away production to benefit the businesses in Hollywood. “I want to bring the shine and glitter back to Hollywood,” he said.
- O’Farrell continued his critique of the Hollywood Millennium Project, saying it was too tall, but also that something had to be done with the empty lot. He said community oriented development that respected the character and culture of neighborhoods was important and promised to maintain an open door policy as well as regularly scheduled neighborhood walks.
Despite being outspent more than 2 to 1, Mitch O’Farrell , a former dancer and council district adviser, emerged victorious over Choi, a labor organizer and former Public Works Commissioner. With 100% of precincts reporting, O’Farrell captured 53.05% of the vote compared to 46.94% for Choi, according the City Clerk’s unofficial tally of the votes.
During the campaign, O’Farrell touted his deep roots in the district and extensive knowledge of neighborhood issues while Choi called for a broader vision and the ability to work across council district boundaries to improve conditions. But in the final weeks of the campaign, the focus shifted away issues as tension rose between the two campaigns, which have traded charges of voter fraud and race-baiting.
He dismissed the allegations of electoral fraud, and his campaign staff said they haven’t been contacted by officials regarding mail-in ballots. O’Farrell denied any wrong-doing during the election and promised to use his experience as a coalition builder to heal the divisions birthed during the campaign.
The Choi campaign did not return a call seeking comment.
He mentioned Echo Park as another focal point for his first term, pointing to the recent completion of the lake as a sign of “momentum” in the neighborhood. He also plans to use the diversity in the neighborhoods as a conduit for tourism.
The new council member also pointed to enhanced public transportation as a means to alleviate the city’s world famous traffic congestion, create an affordable housing plan in the city and focus on “smarter” police work.
The elected councilman also promised to leave his cell phone number on his business card, keep regular office hours and host neighborhood walks.
“That’s my style,” he said. “You’ll see me on the street. I’ll pull over and we’ll have a conversation.”
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.