Huntington Beach appoints Rhonda Bolton to City Council seat vacated by Tito Ortiz

Rhonda Bolton
Rhonda Bolton is sworn in by Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau during Monday night’s special meeting.
(Spencer Grant)

Huntington Beach has found its seventh City Council member.

On Monday night, the council voted 4 to 2 to appoint lawyer Rhonda Bolton to the seat vacated when Tito Ortiz resigned on June 1.

Bolton was one of 105 candidates interviewed by the council over two lengthy sessions this month. During a special meeting held July 19, the council was unable to reach a consensus on naming Ortiz’s replacement and the matter was continued to this week.

Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize, who had voted last week for another candidate, changed her vote Monday to Bolton. She joined Mayor Kim Carr, Councilman Dan Kalmick and Councilwoman Natalie Moser in backing the attorney.


Councilmen Erik Peterson and Mike Posey cast the two dissenting votes. Posey made a substitute motion calling for a special election, but it failed, 4 to 2.

Bolton, a mother of two who has served on the city’s Human Relations Task Force, was sworn in following the recess.

“It means a lot,” Bolton said in an interview following her appointment. “I really appreciate the confidence that the folks in the city have expressed in me. I want to do them proud, and … I think that this is a unique time for us and for the council. I wanted to offer up the passion and care that I have for the community, and the experience and skill, to help us navigate the matters that are really important right now that we need to be working on.”

Bolton specified homelessness, affordable housing and public safety as key issues the city faces.

Bolton is believed to be the first Black City Council member in Huntington Beach history. The city is just 1% Black demographically and has a history checkered with white supremacy.

The scene inside the chambers after the vote appointing Bolton was chaotic, with supporters who largely backed Gracey Van Der Mark yelling “Recall” at the City Council members as the session went into recess.


Van Der Mark, who finished fourth in last November’s election that got Ortiz, Kalmick and Moser onto the dais, had dozens of supporters at Monday’s meeting. They asked the City Council to “honor the vote” and appoint Van Der Mark, or go the special election route at a cost estimated at $1 million.

Instead, the council went with Bolton, who attended the meeting with her husband, John.

Szabo writes for Times Community News.


12:10 p.m. July 27, 2021: This article was updated to include a quote from Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize and one additional quote from the newly-appointed member of the Huntington Beach City Council, Rhonda Bolton.