Councilman stirs up storm over reality TV role

An Alpharetta City Councilman has stirred up a minor tempest with his regular appearances on a reality television show that features a group of wealthy Georgia woman out seeking high-dollar entertainment.

Some local residents say Councilman Donald Mitchell embarrasses the city by portraying himself as a drunken chauvinist on “Big Rich Atlanta,” which premiered in January on the Style Network. In one scene circulating the Internet but that was never aired, Mitchell crawls under a woman’s dress.

“I feel the way he portrays himself is demeaning to woman and rather crude,” said Lee Guy, who operates the blog, “Roots in Alpharetta.” “I think it tarnishes the reputation of Alpharetta to have a sitting councilman behave like that.”

Guy, who works in Alpharetta, said the city competes for jobs in the technology field and is sensitive to the image it presents to the world.

His website includes comments from residents who say Mitchell is at least guilty of bad judgment.

“I find it repulsive. I find it embarrassing,” said resident Ellen Kendall. “I think it shows a lack of maturity, a lack of wisdom and those things are needed to help govern the city.”

Mitchell, a local interior designer, said he took the role as Donald, an interior designer, at the request of a couple of clients. Although the show is not scripted, he said, he is prompted to act a certain way and there is no mention of Alpharetta.

“If anyone was offended by this, I apologize,” Mitchell said. “Those who know me understand the character I play on the show is merely a character and is different than how I conduct myself elsewhere.”

Not everyone is critical. Some members of the downtown business community say what Mitchell does on his own time is his business.

Wendy Vogt, co-owner of Sis and Moons art and antique shop, said Mitchell is one of the most engaged people in the community.

“I think people should be more concerned with what he’s doing when he’s seated on council,” she said.

Resident Julie Hogg said she enjoys reality television and takes it for what it’s worth: semi-scripted drama.

“I’ve been in social situations with Donald and I know he doesn’t act like that,” she said. “I’ve been amazed at the vitriol because it’s completely out of proportion.”

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