Alpharetta Councilmember Donald Mitchell defends reality show behavior

Some residents question appropriateness

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Alpharetta Councilmember Donald Mitchell made his acting debut March 23 amid some controversy, with some in his city questioning his judgment. He maintains he did nothing wrong.

Mitchell, an interior designer, appeared on the Style Network reality show “Big Rich Atlanta,” after one of his clients made an appearance.

In online clips from the show, Mitchell is seen allegedly drunk, at one point crawling under a woman’s skirt and cursing a woman using a foul name.

Mitchell claims he was playing a role as instructed by the directors.

“I was acting and that is not how I conduct myself in real life,” Mitchell said. “[The producers] want you ham it up and give 110 percent.”

Calling the show a “docu-drama,” Mitchell said the overall reaction in the community to his performance was positive. While the show is unscripted, he said he was given a character to perform and direction on how to act.

“I’m delighted to learn there are many who believe my portrayal of the character on the show is so believable, especially since those who know me clearly understand this is not how I conduct myself on council or in public,” Mitchell said.

Others in the community have said they believe the councilmember exercised poor judgment in playing the part.

“It seems there truly is no such thing as bad publicity,” said Alpharetta resident Amy Rogers about the show, and wondered why he would “undermine his credibility.”

“He was proudly drunk and calling women names,” Rogers said.

Online response to the reality show has been varied, with some calling it shameful or embarrassing.

On a posting of the local blog Roots in Alpharetta (rootsinalpharetta.com), viewers voiced both sides.

“The fact that Donald Mitchell has elected to take part in it shows terrible judgment on his part. I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of citizens when I say that we don’t want our city councilmembers playing the part of a tipsy drama queen stereotype on ‘reality’ television,” said a resident calling himself Ben Teller.

“The show would be truly boring without Donald being on the program,” wrote Gail Fields. “Maybe you really do need some more young people in your town that understand that having a little fun and letting your hair down once in a while is OK.”

Mitchell agrees, saying this won’t be the end of his acting career.

“Life is too short to not have fun,” he said.

Mitchell said his position with the city of Alpharetta is not mentioned in the show. His position is up for reelection in November.