The walls in Mark Farrell’s office inside San Francisco’s City Hall are covered with framed pictures of his children, campaign posters and even a picture of himself throwing out the first pitch at a Giants game. Farrell also has a little corner in his office dedicated to his children, a small desk where they can color and keep him company.
District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell was born and raised in San Francisco. His dad is from New York and his mom is from Germany. They met in Vietnam when his father was in the Air Force and his mother worked as a flight attendant. After seeing much of the world, they decided that San Francisco was the most beautiful city in the world and moved into an apartment in the Marina District where they have stayed since 1969.
“Growing up was great in San Francisco. When my dad and I would go running we would go in front of the Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field and I didn’t think it was cool or beautiful. Now looking back, I was incredibly lucky. I feel very fortunate that we are able to do the same thing for our children,” said Farrell.
Farrell currently lives in Laurel Village with his wife and three children.
“I’m lucky I also get to represent the neighborhood I grew up in,” said Farrell.
Farrell was first elected to his position in 2010 and served from January 2011 to January 2015. Farrell was re-elected to serve as supervisor in 2014 for a second term that will finish in Jan. 2019.
Prior to becoming supervisor, Mark was an investment banker for five and a half years. Farrell said he made the switch to politics after he noticed that the supervisors’ personalities were clashing, nothing was getting done in the neighborhoods and that there were huge budget deficits.
He also knew that no one on the Board of Supervisors had any finance background. As a former investment banker, he knew that his experience would be useful in managing the city’s $9.6 billion budget. For the last four years, Mark has chaired the budget committee which he said is exactly what he wanted to do when he came to City Hall.
Farrell said that public service has always been a big part of his life as his parents were both union members and his dad was in the military. Farrell was a member of the Jesuit school system through college, where giving back to the community was also highly emphasized.
Farrell also said that his biggest accomplishments in office are the projects that focus on families. One that he is most passionate about is called the Shared Schoolyard Project.
Farrell fondly remembers playing in the local schoolyard with his friends and dad. He said that’s where he learned to play basketball and learned to swing a bat.
Farrell said, “That was just part of growing up in the city, using the local schoolyard to hang out and play ball.”
One weekend Farrell went to a local schoolyard to teach his son how to ride a bike but soon discovered the space was locked due to budget cuts. This inspired Farrell to privately raise and donate the money in order to keep schoolyards open and accessible, providing all children and families in San Francisco a place to play and come together.
The Shared Schoolyard Project has raised over $1.5 million over the last 6 years. Farrell said the project has opened over 50 out of the 80 schoolyards in the city and by the end of 2017 all 80 will be open.
Mark’s biggest inspiration is his children.
He said, “I want to leave the city in better hands for them. I think we are all responsible for the next generation and I think you feel that pretty acutely once you become a parent. It’s some of the most gratifying work to do things on behalf of your children and for your children.”
Kanishka Karunaratne has been a legislative aide to Farrell for eight months. She said her experience working for Farrell has been really positive so far.
Karunaratne said, “Mark is very focused on families and children and finding ways to keep families in the city. He’s very easy going and easy to talk to about issues. He sees things very rationally whereas some of the other supervisors see things more ideologically.”
Farrell also writes a column called the “Supervisor’s Report” for The Marina Times where he discusses a new political issue every month.
Susan Dyer Reynolds, editor-in-chief of the neighborhood newspaper said, “He’s a very nice guy. When you call him for a quote he always makes the time.”
In what limited free time he has, Farrell loves to coach his children’s sports teams, go running and play golf.
As for the future he sees after his time as supervisor, Farrell left things up in the air.
He said, “The future is uncertain. The only thing I know for sure is that my family will continue to be my number one priority, and the city of San Francisco as well.”