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Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigns, citing personal attacks

Tito Ortiz
Huntington Beach Councilman Tito Ortiz bags turkeys for a food giveaway in December.
(Raul Roa / Times Community News )

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz has resigned his position, citing an onslaught of public attacks on his character and a fear for the safety of his family.

During a Tuesday night City Council meeting, Ortiz said that although he had been “under a notion that I was in a bipartisan position and that we all had the common goal that our city and our constituents could have... [but] to put it frankly, that’s not the case.”

He said that he has been the “sole focus of character assassination each and every week with multiple news stories” that sought to defame his name. The attacks, he said, now involve his family, causing him to fear for their safety.

“I was sworn in, and I was met with hostility and judgment,” said Ortiz, 46.

He said his resignation was effective Tuesday. Mayor Kim Carr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In a statement, Catherine Jun, assistant to the city manager, said the City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider the appointment of a new mayor pro tem.

Ortiz, who was sworn in as a councilman Dec. 7, has been outspoken about his refusal to wear a mask or get a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. He’s previously accused his fellow council members of singling him out because of his conservative views.

Ortiz’s campaign slogan in last year’s race was “Make Huntington Beach Safe Again,” a nod to former President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” When the ballots were counted in November, Ortiz received more than 42,000 votes — the most in a council race in the city’s history.

“We’ve got to be on the right side of history, the good side of history,” Ortiz told a crowd of Trump supporters during a “Stop the Steal” rally in December protesting the election of President Biden. “This is good versus evil. I don’t want a communist country.”

During an interview on a podcast last year, Ortiz called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and said it’s a form of “population control” by the left and a “political scam” that would disappear by election day. He’s frequently appeared at events without a mask to pose for photos and chat with supporters.

Ortiz was nearly stripped of his mayor pro tem title during a City Council meeting in February after he was criticized for refusing to wear a mask.

He received heavy public backlash after he recorded a video outside a Huntington Beach burger shack in January criticizing the venue for not letting him order unless he was wearing a mask. Community members accused Ortiz of potentially sending customers away when small businesses were struggling to survive amid coronavirus restrictions.

A special meeting was held Feb. 1 on whether to rid Ortiz of his mayor pro tem title after an incident where he was denied entry to a strategic planning meeting at the Central Library because he showed up without a mask.

The council opted to table the item to give him more time to learn the ropes of his position.

“This is not a partisan seat,” Councilman Mike Posey, a longtime Republican, has said in an admonition of Ortiz. “It’s about serving the community. It’s about serving your neighbors. If wearing a mask makes somebody more comfortable, then put it on.”

More recently, Ortiz received criticism for filing for unemployment against the city in February, despite not having his hours cut during the pandemic. In a statement on his Facebook page in response to an Orange County Register story on him filing for unemployment, he wrote that his businesses have “suffered tremendously due to the COVID lockdowns” and that he had “forfeited many income-generating opportunities to serve Huntington Beach as an elected official.”

“What is most alarming is that high-level Huntington Beach city employees and/or elected officials may have colluded with local activists to disclose my confidential information to the OC Register as part of an ongoing character assassination campaign against me,” he wrote.

Ortiz is a longtime Huntington Beach resident. His biography on Huntington Beach’s website says that he “decided to step into the political arena to fight for his hometown.”

Daily Pilot staff writer Matt Szabo contributed to this report.


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