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Kim Carr sworn in as new Huntington Beach mayor and Tito Ortiz appointed mayor pro tem

Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau swears in new Mayor Kim Carr and Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz.
Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau swears in new Mayor Kim Carr and Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
(Screenshot by Matt Szabo)

Kim Carr was sworn in as Huntington Beach mayor on Monday night while former mixed martial arts star Tito Ortiz was sworn in as mayor pro tempore, setting the city up for its next two years of leadership.

Carr and Ortiz were sworn in together before sitting next to each other on the dais. Ortiz and fellow new council members Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser will join holdovers Carr, Barbara Delgleize, Mike Posey and Erik Peterson to create the seven-member City Council for 2021.

Carr, first elected to the City Council in 2018, takes over as Surf City’s mayor during continued difficult times caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A regional stay-at-home order took effect in Orange County on Monday and will last at least three weeks.

The new Southern California stay-at-home order will last a minimum of three weeks. Monday marked the first day that the latest restrictions have been in place.

Carr heard at least one phone call of public comment that she was happy to get after being sworn in, as her teenage daughter, Rachel, called into the council chambers to congratulate her.

Carr mentioned during her speech that she was hopeful for the upcoming year, noting that she was being sworn in on the 79th anniversary of Japan bombing Pearl Harbor during World War II.

“As we know, it was a horrible day, a day that will live in infamy,” she said. “But this day reminds us that as a nation, when united, we can overcome great challenges and adversity … I completely understand COVID fatigue and the stress, frustration and uncertainty the ever-changing guidelines from our governor cause our community. But now is not the time to let our guard down. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Now more than ever, we need to come together.”

Members of the Huntington Beach City Council applaud Kim Carr after she was sworn in as mayor during Monday night's meeting.
Members of the Huntington Beach City Council applaud Kim Carr after she was sworn in as mayor during Monday’s council meeting.
(Screenshot by Matt Szabo)

Peterson nominated Ortiz as the new mayor pro tem, and Carr seconded the motion.

Ortiz’s selection was in accordance with a 1991 resolution which states that any council member who has served as mayor in the last four years is not eligible to be selected as mayor pro tem. Ortiz was the choice over Kalmick and Moser since he received the most votes of the three new City Council members.

The resolution, however, is not legally binding and was bypassed by the City Council as recently as 2017, when it chose Peterson as the mayor pro tem instead of Billy O’Connell.

Ortiz received 42,246 votes for City Council, according to the city’s certified election results from the Nov. 3 election. Kalmick received 30,310 votes, and Moser 30,185 votes.

Tito Ortiz, a former mixed martial arts star and lifelong Huntington Beach resident, was voters’ first choice for City Council.

Huntington Beach City Clerk Robin Estanislau and Treasurer Alisa Backstrom, both of whom ran unopposed, also were sworn in for another team.

Ortiz, a lifelong resident of Surf City who was one of two members of the new City Council to not wear a mask on the dais along with Peterson, said during his speech that he planned to keep his campaign promise to make Huntington Beach safer.

“I jumped into something that I didn’t realize what I was going to get into,” he said. “But they said, do you want to be a player or do you want to be a spectator? I got sick of being a spectator … I’ve watched Huntington Beach deteriorate on a small scale, but enough of scale to make me want to step up and be a player.”

Tito Ortiz addresses the City Council after he was sworn in as mayor pro tem on Monday.
Tito Ortiz addresses the City Council after he was sworn in as mayor pro tem on Monday.
(Screenshot by Matt Szabo)

Ortiz, who has been openly skeptical of the COVID-19 pandemic, also used the word “plandemic” to describe it during his first speech as City Council member.

“[I appreciate] the support that I’ve been given from the residents here in Huntington Beach,” he said. “It has been something that I’ve been very, very thankful for every one of the residents who have brought me into their home and given me an opportunity to speak in front of large groups. Of course, with this COVID-19 … let me say this right, ‘plandemic’ or pandemic … it has been really hard just to live a normal life for my children, for myself, and a lot of other people around the world. Here’s an opportunity for me, once again, to stop being a spectator and be a player and step up for my community.”

The views were different from those of Kalmick, who openly called out City Council members for not wearing masks during his campaign. He said Huntington Beach needs to work toward data-driven solutions “that benefit the most and protect those with the least.”

“It’s on us as leaders, and you as residents, to help protect one another,” he said. “We can model our future behavior on that of the Greatest Generation, sacrifice for the greater good and come together as one H.B., to work to make Huntington Beach better and safer for everyone.”

Moser said she was grateful for her family and friends and their good health, as well as her campaign team and, most importantly, the voters.

“In me, Huntington Beach voters have chosen inclusivity, an evidence-based approach, and empathy,” she said. “We will work together and find a way to bridge the divides and heal the wounds in our community. We must.”

The meeting was the final one for Councilwoman Jill Hardy, who termed out, as well as outgoing Mayor Lyn Semeta and Councilman Patrick Brenden. Semeta and Brenden decided not to run for reelection.

In a rally in Costa Mesa, small business owners and restaurateurs said they would operate despite COVID-19 restrictions, calling them arbitrary and unfair, even as California’s ICU bed capacity shrinks.

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