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Huntington Beach City Council accepting applications for seat left open by Ortiz’s resignation

Former Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz, right, resigned from the Huntington Beach City Council on June 1.
The Huntington Beach City Council is accepting applications to fill the spot vacated by former Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz, who resigned on June 1.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

A Surf City resident looking to serve the public will likely be seated on the dais within a matter of weeks.

The Huntington Beach City Council is accepting applications to fill the spot vacated when Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigned on June 1.

Residents have until Friday at 5 p.m. to apply for the vacant seat, after a unanimous 6-0 vote during a special council meeting last week. Online applications are available at bit.ly/hbcitycouncil, or those interested can visit the city clerk’s office at City Hall.

City Manager Oliver Chi said applicants will likely be interviewed either between June 25 and June 27 or between July 9 and July 11, depending on the number of applications received. The City Council will review both the applications and interviews to make a final decision, which is expected at a council meeting in July.

The remainder of the term for the seat Ortiz left runs through 2024.

Many residents have called for the appointment of Gracey Van Der Mark, who finished fourth in a field of 15 last November when Ortiz, Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser were the top finishers for the three seats then open.

The City Council held the special meeting Thursday to outline the process. Cari Swan was one of several residents who spoke in favor of Van Der Mark, the former finance commissioner who was appointed as a planning commissioner by Ortiz.

“Do the right thing, restoring faith in our local government,” Swan said. “Honor the vote and appoint the first runner-up, Gracey Van Der Mark. It’s very simple.”

Though the City Council is a nonpartisan office, Huntington Beach is in an interesting position with three Democrats in Mayor Kim Carr, Kalmick and Moser, as well as three Republicans in Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize, Erik Peterson and Mike Posey.

Van Der Mark is a conservative like Ortiz. Others have petitioned for community activist Oscar Rodriguez, who finished fifth in the November election and is currently a planning commissioner, like Van Der Mark. Unlike Van Der Mark, he was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Orange County in the election.

Casey McKeon, who finished eighth in last year’s election, also advocated for Van Der Mark’s appointment.

“The voters have already made your choice for you,” he said. “If you truly believe in democracy, there is no counter-argument to filling the vacancy with the first runner-up from an election that was just seven months ago.”

Wendy Rincon, who called into the meeting, said she believed Rodriguez would be the best choice. She cited his support for the Oak View community, including his leadership of a food distribution each Friday.

“I also think that we need someone who represents a minority,” she said. “I think that has been lacking on the City Council, and I think that under the circumstances, it’s time that we show as a community that we can make a difference.”

Laura Sire said she also supported Rodriguez, who she called a “hard-working and humble guy.”

The City Council has a 60-day period until July 31 to fill Ortiz’s seat, per the city charter, according to Chi. If it isn’t filled by then, it would have to be filled via a special election that Chi said the Orange County Registrars Office estimated would cost about $1 million.

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