Huntington Beach City Council to vote on removing Tito Ortiz as mayor pro tem

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz i
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz is approached from all sides with cellphones and a megaphone during a food giveaway in the Oak View neighborhood of Huntington Beach on Dec. 23.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The Huntington Beach City Council will consider removing Tito Ortiz as the city’s mayor pro tem during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

An agenda item brought forward by Mayor Kim Carr, Councilman Mike Posey and Councilman Dan Kalmick asks that the panel do three things: Consider a “No Confidence” vote in Ortiz, remove him from the position and identify another council member to serve as mayor pro tem for the remainder of 2021.

“It’s a leadership role,” Carr said. “There are certain responsibilities and expectations that council members, the community, business leaders expect from their elected leaders ... We need the mayor pro tem to be reflective of the community and represent the city the way that the community wants it to be represented. It has nothing to do with his opinions, it has nothing to do with his political preferences. It really is based on his actions, and how he conducts himself as mayor pro tem out in the community.”

Ortiz, a lifelong Huntington Beach resident and former professional UFC fighter, was elected to the City Council last November with the most votes in city history. But he has drawn controversy with his refusal to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, he apologized to his City Council colleagues after making an Instagram story criticizing TK Burgers. The popular franchise’s Huntington Beach location declined to serve him on Jan. 17 because he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Ortiz did not return a message Thursday seeking comment.

The agenda item brought forward by Carr, Posey and Kalmick states that Ortiz “has failed to perform at a level expected for this position and has demonstrated little commitment to serving in the role with honor and dignity. His unprofessional demeanor and poor judgement have raised concerns among residents, local business owners, and his fellow council members. The Huntington Beach community expects local elected officials to take their governing responsibilities seriously and we whole-heartedly agree.”

Mayor pro tem is a largely ceremonious role, but traditionally the person who holds that title becomes mayor the following year.

Kalmick said Thursday the item was brought forward because Ortiz has neglected his duties during his nearly three months in the seat.

“Realistically, if Kim gets sick and she can’t perform, Tito is in no position to take over and run our meetings,” Kalmick said. “He’s been not interested in learning how to do to the job. He was a no-show, no-call for meetings this week for subcommittees that he helps make the quorum on, so those meetings are not held. I mean, we’ve reached our hand out to try to help make him successful in every way, and he has not taken that hand.”

The agenda item includes a quote from an article from the Institute for Local Government, titled “The Ethics of Speaking One’s Mind,” which says in part that being a public servant may constrain one’s activities in many ways, including the open expression of personal views.

“He’s become a huge distraction from moving policy forward within the city,” Kalmick said. “I don’t believe he represents the majority of our council, and therefore we’re asking the majority of our council to remove him from a leadership role. He still is welcome to serve on our council and all of that, but at this point, we’re not interested in having him serve in that role.”

Monday night’s City Council meeting will be held virtually beginning at 6 p.m. The agenda item regarding Ortiz’s removal as mayor pro tem is No. 23, the last on the agenda.

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