Huntington Beach City Council spars over liaisons list

Huntington Beach council members Dan Kalmick, Natalie Moser, Gracey Van Der Mark, Tony Strickland and Casey McKeon.
Huntington Beach City Council members Dan Kalmick, Natalie Moser, Gracey Van Der Mark, Tony Strickland and Casey McKeon listen to residents speak during a meeting last August.
(File Photo)

To the majority go the spoils, at least in terms of the Huntington Beach City Council.

Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark presented a revised council liaisons list for boards and committees at Tuesday night’s meeting. One name was again conspicuously absent from all of them.

For the second straight year, Councilman Dan Kalmick was not selected as council liaison for any of more than 30 city, citizen or community boards or committees.

Kalmick’s council minority colleagues, Natalie Moser and Rhonda Bolton, are on two each — the Huntington Central Park Collaborative and the Huntington Beach Council on Aging. Meanwhile, Van Der Mark herself sits on a vast majority of the boards and commissions.


Van Der Mark and Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns both said Friday they simply don’t trust Kalmick, who was passed over as mayor last year in favor of Tony Strickland after the conservative majority set aside a 1991 resolution that would have given the gavel to Kalmick, as he was next in line.

“He’s trying to get on the [Orange County Sanitation Board of Directors] because this is an election year,” Van Der Mark said. “He’s using those residents on Rhone Lane [who are battling OC San] as political capital, and that’s disgusting. I am just so angry about that ... He did nothing three years ago, and now he’s claiming he’s going to do something now. I’m not going to allow Dan Kalmick to use the Rhone residents to prop himself up politically.”

Burns is currently in his second year as Huntington Beach’s representative on the OC San board.

Sharon Crabill, co-president of the Mobile Home Resident Coalition, hands over resident papers.
Sharon Crabill, co-president of the Mobile Home Resident Coalition, hands over a packet of signed resident papers in favor keeping the Mobile Home Advisory Board to Assistant City Manager Travis Hopkins and council liaison Gracey Van Der Mark last year. The board was later eliminated.
(File Photo)

Kalmick said he was an alternate on the OC San district board in 2021, soon after being elected to the City Council.

“They had walked us through and said, ‘Hey, we have an issue [regarding the Rhone Lane easement],’” Kalmick said Friday. “We all got information in September of last year saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to move on this shortly.’ I said, ‘I’m not on the board, but let us know what the final plan is and let us know before you do it.’ They never did.

“Pat Burns is the city representative on that board, so I don’t understand how that turned into that they don’t trust me. We briefed staff and went out there with all of the crew. This isn’t something I kept secret.”

Kalmick said there was nothing to do three years ago because OC San had yet to move on the easement issue.

“We told them in 2021 to go away, if you don’t need [the easement] let’s come back later,” he said. “We didn’t hear anything about it again until I got briefed in September 2023. It’s not because it’s an election year I want to do something, it’s because I’m representing the people of Huntington Beach. They’re just making up excuses because of what’s currently in front of them ... They don’t trust me because they’re scared of me.”

Then-Mayor Kim Carr was the Surf City representative on the OC San board in 2021.

“We just never heard anything back,” Carr said. “As far as I was concerned, this was dead ... [the assertion against Kalmick by Van der Mark] is a false narrative. It’s mean, it’s vindictive, it’s not true.”

The chasm between the four majority council members and three minority members remains deep. Burns, in his comments Tuesday night, referenced talking to Kalmick while walking into City Hall from the parking lot early last year.

Burns said when he told Kalmick he wished the council members could get along better on the dais, Kalmick responded that it was just politics.

“He goes, ‘That’s politics,’ then he leans out the door and says, ‘And I believe in it,’” Burns said. “I’m just standing there going, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Oh well.

“Dan’s about self-service, and I’m all about community service. I’m not a politician, I’m not going to work for votes ... I like being professional on the dais whenever possible. We’re not going to agree on a lot of things, but you don’t have to be nasty or snippy about it.”

Kalmick said the conversation happened after the initial council vote to only allow government or U.S. military flags to be flown on city property. He said he used the term “cowardly,” which he knew would upset Burns, a former longtime police officer.

“What they did was cowardly,” Kalmick reiterated Friday. “They should have just come out and said, ‘We don’t want to fly the Pride flag’ ... but instead they went through a three-meeting process to create bad public policy and now a bad charter amendment.

“This is politics. That’s what I meant. I’m not being mean to you, I’m saying your policy is stupid ... The policy was cowardly ... and the fact that Pat called me a liar during [Tuesday night’s meeting] is a violation of Robert’s Rules. He should be censured for that. They have no evidence of any of this, that I’m lying. They’re just upset that someone’s pushing back on the [crap] that they say during the meetings. They’re just spewing right-wing talking points, none of them speak for themselves.”

Van Der Mark responded that there’s one flag that represents everyone.

“Our goal was to bring unity under one flag, period — no more subcategories of any kind,” she said.

Huntington Beach City Council members listen to then-Mayor Tony Strickland speak.
Huntington Beach City Council members including Pat Burns, center, Rhonda Bolton and Natalie Moser listen to then-Mayor Tony Strickland speak last match at the Senior Center in Central Park.
(File photo)

Both Van Der Mark and Burns pointed to the previous council’s treatment of former Councilman Erik Peterson, who was consistently a dissenting vote in a 6-1 vote. According to records, though, Peterson was a liaison of the Design Review Board (with Kalmick), Fourth of July Executive Board, Harbor Commission and Historic Resources Board in 2021, as selected by Carr.

In 2022, Peterson remained on the same four boards under Mayor Barbara Delgleize.

Van Der Mark said Friday that Kalmick is just “not an an honest person, I don’t care what he says.”

“I’ve known the guy a while, and I don’t trust him at all,” she said. “Why is it relevant that he wasn’t sitting on the [OC San] board? I’m an alternate, Tony’s not on there, Casey [McKeon] is not on there, yet we’re all doing what we can to try to help. Our responsibility is to do the right thing, and the right thing was to not sweep this under the rug for three years.”

She said the minority council members have never approached her to talk about anything outside of meetings, but she would be open to a dialogue.

“We probably could find ways to be more amicable,” Van Der Mark admitted, adding that she gave Moser two of the committees she had expressed interest in. “But I value honestly above all else ... It would be nice if we could get along, but apparently we haven’t found a way to do that.”

Kalmick believes it probably isn’t likely any time soon.

“They continue to ridicule and dismiss three of the council members who were duly elected as if we’re second-class citizens,” he said. “Once you get elected, there’s very little differentiation based on who got how many votes. It does not matter, and for them to completely remove us from all forms of government because they say they don’t trust us? ... They’re floundering for excuses to try to rationalize their bad governance.”