Huntington Beach Councilmember Takes Heat for Anti-Mask Stance

Huntington Beach Councilmember Takes Heat for Anti-Mask Stance
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz stands in front of City Hall in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Nov. 13, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Drew Van Voorhis

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship star and recently elected Huntington Beach city councilmember Tito Ortiz says he’s under fire from fellow councilmembers for his refusal to wear a mask during the ongoing 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?”

Ortiz was stopped from entering a Huntington Beach city council meeting Nov. 5 after Mayor Kim Carr wouldn't let him into the meeting without a mask. From there, he returned to his car to participate in the meeting via Zoom.

No one from Huntington Beach city council responded to The Epoch Times for comment by deadline.

Anti-Mask Reasoning

Ortiz, who has been vocal about his anti-mask approach since the beginning of the pandemic, told The Epoch Times that he believes they're unhealthy.

“Being a PE major in college, I understand the physics and health of your body, and being a professional fighter for over 24 years, I understand the oxygen that is needed for my body to obtain the right conditioning and stay healthy,” Ortiz said. “A mask obstructs that oxygen from getting into your face.”

Ortiz said he believes people who wear masks in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 don't change them often enough, resulting in facial coverings becoming dirty, and more likely to spread contagious diseases.

“People wearing masks right now, they're wearing the masks, and then they're putting them in their cars, in their pockets, they're touching them nonstop after they touch their steering wheels, after they open doors,” he said. “So that mask becomes a dirt filter.”

A Contentious Issue

Ortiz is part of an anti-mask movement that has been particularly prevelant in Huntington Beach, where many residents have spoken out against COVID government mandates. It's an issue that has divided cities across the country.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the anti-mask stance. Others believe face coverings to be an effective way of controlling the virus and preventing its spread.

But Ortiz said he has his own strategy for staying safe.

By eating healthy, training regularly, and getting his vitamins, he said he trusts his immune system to keep COVID-19 and other viruses from hurting him or his family.

“Not at one time have I heard anyone from the CDC talk about boosting your immune system,” Ortiz said. “Everything else has been lock people up, put them in their homes, and make them wear mandatory masks. Well, that brings your immune system down.”

Despite his own beliefs, Ortiz repeatedly said that he wasn’t encouraging others to boycott masks. Instead, he said he wants Americans to have the right to make their own choices.

Shifting Focus

The mayor pro tem said that rather than worrying about mask issues, Huntington Beach should focus on reopening its economy safely, to help companies affected by the shutdowns.

Ortiz said one of his biggest priorities is helping Huntington Beach with its growing homeless problem.

“[My biggest goal is] making our city the safest city in America again,” he said. "In 1993-1995, we were the safest city in America. As of September 2020, we're 50th in our state.

“The homeless situation has been a crisis, but the Huntington Beach Police Department has handled it very, very well. They have cleaned up Edison Park, they have cleaned up on Beach Boulevard and Warner. They're working hard, and I'm very thankful for Julian [Harvey], our chief. He's done an amazing job as our chief.”

Despite an overwhelming count of 43,000 votes during his city council race, Ortiz said that he doesn't currently have aspirations of a higher office, saying he wants to strictly focus on Huntington Beach and how he can improve it for everyone.

“I think we need to really focus on reuniting our city, our state, and our country,” he said. “It's very important.”

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for six years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.