HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.—Supporters of Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz gathered at the city’s civic center Feb. 1 as council prepared to discuss stripping him of his title.
Councilmembers were set to respond to a motion of no confidence—authored by Mayor Kim Carr and councilmembers Dan Kalmick and Michael Posey—which, if passed, would result in Ortiz’s removal from the mayor pro tem role.
Not everyone was on board with the move.
Casey McKeon, a city council candidate during the most recent election, told The Epoch Times that council has focused on Ortiz’s mistakes to the neglect of his achievements.
“Ever since the beginning, they have been tearing him down and attacking him instead of really reaching out to help him grow in his new role,” McKeon told The Epoch Times prior to the city hall rally.
McKeon said the reason council has been tough on Ortiz was due to his strong conservative values. He called on council to instead focus on more constructive issues, such as solving the city’s homelessness crisis.
“It’s just always a constant negative,” he said. “No one focuses on the positive; unfortunately the negative stuff gets the most noise.”
Ortiz garnered the most votes for a city council seat in Huntington Beach history with 42,246 votes. Before the vote, Huntington Beach residents rallied in front of the city’s civic center to show their support for Ortiz.
However, some of his fellow council members have said he’s unfit for the role.
“This is a serious job and it should be taken seriously,” Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr previously told The Epoch Times. “Our community expects nothing less.”
If the agenda item passes with a majority vote, Ortiz will remain a councilmember for the remainder of his term, but council will chose a new mayor pro tem.
If it doesn’t pass, Ortiz will become the mayor next year, as the mayor pro tem position transfers to the mayor seat each year.
Gracey Van Der Mark, who finished fourth in the last city council race, told The Epoch Times that she wasn’t in favor of the vote of no confidence and was concerned that the council motion was a partisan issue.
She said she was confused as to why Posey—who is a Republican—coauthored the item. Without him, council would not have moved forward with a vote, she said.
“Had the one Republican not agreed [to coauthor the item], they would not have done this, because then it would have looked exactly like what it is—an attack on a very strong conservative Republican,” Van Der Mark said.
Ortiz appointed Van Der Mark as his planning commissioner. She said that removing his position as mayor pro tem seems premature, as he’s only had three council meetings.
“If there’s a problem, they should have talked to him … but they haven’t said anything. To us this is completely new,” she said.
Ortiz was not available to comment on the issue, but previously told The Epoch Times he felt he was being unfairly targeted, particularly for his refusal to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a nonstop attack toward me,” Ortiz recently told The Epoch Times. “There are other city council members that don’t wear masks, and they don’t get as much heat as me. Why try to attack my name and attack me as a person because I feel I’m healthy enough that I don’t need to wear a mask?”