The city council in Huntington Beach, California, has appointed a civil rights attorney to replace former Councilman Tito Ortiz.
Rhoda Bolton, who serves on the Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force, was selected for the role during a July 26 meeting. She was among 189 people who applied for the position and among more than 100 people interviewed by the city council.
The council, which was deadlocked on agreeing on a candidate during a July 19 special meeting, met again July 26 in hopes of filling the position before July 31. If they failed to do so, it would have triggered a special election costing about $1 million, according to City Manager Oliver Chi.
Similar to the last meeting, a large crowd attended to endorse Gracey Van Der Mark and “honor the vote.” Some said Van Der Mark should have been selected because she was the first runner-up in the 2020 election and is ideologically conservative like Ortiz.
Bolton, during a speech to the council prior to being appointed, described herself as an independent.
“I care about the city, and I want to see it continue to thrive and grow,” Bolton said. “And one thing I am not is a partisan. For me, this is about doing my part to see that every person has what they need to reach their full potential, and that includes feeling safe, having a decent place to live, economic opportunity, and being able to hold their head up high. Ideologically, I am part of the middle who just wants to see our elected bodies take care of business without being paralyzed by partisan division.”
When Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize said she would vote for Bolton, some members of the public responded with boos and heckles.
“Let me just say things seem to always work out here in Surf City USA. For good or bad, life has a way of righting a ship in the storms of life,” Delgleize said. “Further, Huntington Beach is a resilient city. We have a ‘can-do attitude,’ complete with a big heart of gratitude and resolve.
“I have reviewed all the applications, and one candidate does stand out for me with her professionalism and diverse background, and numerous business positions. A local business leader shared with me recently that this individual is someone that doesn’t rush to judgment, she makes well-researched, measured decisions, and I believe she would be a complement to our city council by bringing expertise and leadership and business knowledge for these reasons.”
Councilman Mike Posey immediately called for a vote for a special election, but the motion failed.
The vote to appoint Bolton then passed 4–2, with Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson dissenting.
Bolton will serve the remainder of Ortiz’s term, which ends in 2024.