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Huntington Beach’s Jill Hardy again exits the City Council dais

Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Jill Hardy was first elected in 2002.
Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Jill Hardy, who is leaving the council after being termed out for the second time, was first elected in 2002.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Earlier this year, the city of Huntington Beach released a video featuring Surf City’s 14 female mayors over the years. The year 2020 is the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Two of those 14 mayors are leaving the dais this month. Outgoing Mayor Lyn Semeta is not running for reelection, and Jill Hardy, who was mayor in 2005 and 2015, has termed out for the second time.

Semeta, who narrated the video, chuckled when she saw Hardy in it. In her first term in office, Hardy, then 31 years old, became the youngest mayor in Orange County history at that time.

“The section on her, when she’s sworn in, she looks like a child,” Semeta said.

Hardy is now 49 but maintains a more youthful appearance, which belies her experience serving the city. First elected to the City Council in 2002 and reelected in 2006, 2012 and 2016, she is wrapping up her fourth term.

Hardy is eligible to run again as soon as 2022, though she said she’s undecided. Her children keep growing fast; Kalissa will be a sophomore in high school in two years, and Alec will be a sixth-grader.

“I didn’t clear out my office last time [I termed out in 2010] and this time I did, but that might have had more to do with having an 8-week-old kid last time,” Hardy said with a laugh. “I needed a break then. I do think that it’s good that we have to take a break from council, kind of reacquaint ourselves with the community not as a council member.”

Hardy, a math teacher at Marina High who has taught in Huntington Beach Union High School District for 27 years, said she plans to get back into teaching economics at the community college level. And she will stay involved with the Huntington Beach Youth Board, a program she was part of as a student at Edison High.

Hardy is a fourth-generation Huntington Beach resident who said her great-grandfather settled in the city in 1926.

“My mother always said that she grew up in a small town of 5,000 people called Huntington Beach, California,” she said. “Change is in part what inspired me to get involved in the city. [I was] sitting at the dinner table in the 1980s when things were really exploding, hearing people grumble about what was going on. I kind of was listening going, ‘Let’s do something about it. Let’s make sure that this inevitable change still helps us maintain the character and culture of the city we love.’”

Hardy takes pride in the city, even as things continue to change. Another lifelong resident, former mixed martial arts star Tito Ortiz, was the leading vote-getter in last month’s City Council election. Ortiz, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser will be sworn in at Monday’s council meeting, while Kim Carr will be sworn in as mayor.

Hardy, who endorsed Kalmick and Moser, said she thinks the next iteration of the City Council will be able to do great things. It also includes holdovers Erik Peterson, Barbara Delgleize and Mike Posey.

“I’ve only met Tito a couple of times,” Hardy said. “I taught his son, so I mostly met him through Back to School night. He seems very nice. I know he grew up here, and I’ve found over the years that people who grew up in Huntington Beach, when it really comes down to a vote, I agree with them more often than not. People talk a lot about what party people are registered with, but this is a nonpartisan office.”

Jill Hardy, an Edison High graduate, has been teaching in Huntington Beach Union High School District for 27 years.
Jill Hardy, an Edison High graduate, has been a teacher at Marina High for 14 years and has been teaching in Huntington Beach Union High School District for 27 years.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Hardy served as mayor pro tempore for most of a challenging 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic, before passing that title off to Carr. Semeta said she appreciated that support, and that Hardy really does her homework and shows passion for representing the city.

Hardy was passionate about having a modified Fourth of July parade, for example, maintaining Surf City’s long streak of consecutive years with one.

“My impression of Jill is that she comes very prepared,” Semeta said.

Hardy said she has tried to serve the city to the best of her abilities, even if that meant she was a dissenting vote. During the pandemic, she said she taught her Marina High classes online from City Hall, until Huntington Beach Union High School District returned to in-person instruction in early November.

“The teacher in me feels the need to explain what I’m doing,” she said. “I try to explain in a way that ultimately sways somebody else, but also be respectful of the fact that a lot of the time people are very decided. When I’m one against six, it’s really important to explain why I’m thinking differently, or why I’m having trouble deciding. When it’s a 6-1 vote, I know I’m representing a constituency that isn’t feeling very heard that night, so I feel the need to express the point of view that I’m trying to represent.”

Monday’s City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be watched on channel HBTV-3 or online at huntingtonbeach.legistar.com. Residents may send comments on agenda items to supplementalcomm@surfcity-hb.org.

Communications received by 2 p.m. Monday will be distributed to the council prior to consideration of agenda-related items.

The council chambers will not be open for in-person attendance to provide public comment due to COVID-19, and residents are encouraged to submit comments via Zoom.

The Webinar ID is 971 5413 0528 and can be reached via the Zoom app or by calling (669) 900-6833 and entering the ID. Individuals will be placed in a holding queue and prompted to speak when the city clerk announces their name or the last three digits of their phone number.

Time for remarks is limited to three minutes.

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