Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz won the first fight of his political career Feb. 1 when a no confidence vote aimed at the rookie politician failed.
During a heated debate, Huntington Beach councilmembers discussed whether to strip Ortiz—a mixed martial arts champion—of his mayoral title. Those who spearheaded an agenda item proposing to do so accused him of failing to take his job seriously.
Numerous members of the public gathered at the city’s civic center to support Ortiz prior to the vote; others spoke both for and against the councilmember during the meeting.
Ortiz was sworn into city council last Dec. 7, and garnered the most votes for a Huntington Beach council seat in history with 42,246 votes.
Since taking office, he has been criticized by some for refusing to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also under fire for calling in sick for a meeting.
He told councilmembers that the criticisms directed toward him have been unfair.
“I’ve been pro tem for five weeks,” Ortiz said during the meeting. “You guys have never even given me an opportunity.
“The difference between this and in the fight game is in the fight game, I get to get in a cage, you get to compete against another man, and we shake hands, and we say ‘OK.’ With this, I don’t get nothing like that. This is not about the money. For me, this is about the future of my children. This is about the future of my city. I’m not leaving. I’m not planning on leaving. I want to make the best decision for the city.”
Councilmember Michael Posey, who helped author the agenda item, proposed to delay the motion after hearing that Ortiz was committed to improving his performance.
“Tito demonstrated that he acknowledges some of his mistakes, and that he made a pledge to commit himself to being effective at the job and that efficacy means communicating regularly with his colleagues, and attending meetings,” Posey told The Epoch Times.
“He will have some time, with no certainty, to demonstrate that he’ll live up to that commitment.”
Councilmember Dan Kalmick said he was upset that Ortiz missed the council’s first meeting—which was not a regularly scheduled meeting—and that he did not wear a mask to council meetings as requested.
“If this was the private sector, you would have been fired because of your behavior,” Kalmick told Ortiz during the meeting. “We have set rules. The leader of our board set rules, and you chose not to follow them.”
Mayor Kim Carr, who co-authored the agenda item, said she needs a reliable right-hand man to work with.
“I worked really hard to get to this position; I take it very seriously. And when I see people that are not taking it seriously, they make a joke out of it…it’s not representative of the city,” she said during the meeting.
“I need somebody that I can count on, who’s going to be able to go to events, who’s going to be able to go to presentations, whether you have to wear a mask or not. And sometimes you just have to do it, because that’s what the job requires.”
Meantime, Councilmember Erik Peterson accused Carr of failing to take the initiative to help orient Ortiz into his new role.
“Kim, you’re the mayor,” Peterson said. “Talk to him. Say ‘hey, I need you to do this.’ There hasn’t been a lot of those things.”