Mailbag: H.B. council has sole dibs on choosing Ortiz’s replacement

Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigned from the City Council on June 1.
Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigned from the City Council on June 1. Only the City Council can replace him, a Daily Pilot reader writes.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

In the 2020 elections, a record number of Huntington Beach residents decided to gamble with their votes. They bet on the long shot: a brash, inexperienced, ill-informed, former athlete and social media darling to be a City Council member. At last Tuesday’s Huntington Beach City Council meeting, that bet on the long shot went bust with the resignation of Tito Ortiz.

Anyone surprised by Mr. Ortiz’s sudden resignation clearly hadn’t been paying attention. While some speculated Mr. Ortiz, a novice to elected public service, would “grow into the job,” this was wishful thinking. During his brief tenure, his most significant accomplishment was to make H.B. the punchline of jokes throughout our state, across our nation and indeed even around the globe. He seemed to move effortlessly from one controversy to the next, all while posting his regrettable exploits as content on his social media accounts.

True to form, Mr. Ortiz’s surprise farewell address (season finale?) was straight out of “Reality TV: 101" as he attempted to paint himself the victim of far-flung conspiracies, behind-the-scenes backstabbing and the target of nonexistent media cabals. Perhaps the most telling statement of Mr. Ortiz’s farewell was also the most obvious: "… this job isn’t working for me.” With this simple six-word phrase, Mr. Ortiz summed up perfectly his failure as a public servant: Public service isn’t about you; it is about those you serve.

As made evident by the public comments at Wednesday night’s special council session, some are already focused on who will replace Mr. Lightning Rod. Less than 24 hours after the resignation, those with aspirations to fill a still-warm seat were already spinning rationales and staking their claims. Never mind that the Huntington Beach Charter is quite clear about the council having sole authority for appointing a replacement. Some simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to reframe this decision as a referendum on “the will of the people,” whatever that means.

In the interest of our collective sanity, let’s relax, slow down and sit this one out. Our City Council will make this decision, and I’d guess they’ll lean toward selecting someone with a track record of public service and not the slightest hint of a social media empire.

The residents of Huntington Beach have endured enough needless distractions. Everyone in our community would benefit from less performative nonsense and fewer divisive speeches aimed at registering clicks and more expressions of affirmative vision and constructive intent.

Steve Shepherd
Huntington Beach

Wear yellow June 15 in Laguna

Some call it a red-letter day, but I prefer to think of it as a yellow-letter day in Laguna. That is when people in town officially will be able to reemerge from COVID-19 restrictions and celebrate their post-pandemic lives.

With these thoughts in mind, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and I are inviting friends and neighbors to turn out for a community photo at 10 a.m. in front of City Hall.

“Everyone who has been fully vaccinated is welcome,” Kempf says. “Please wear something yellow — like a hat, shirt, blouse, skirt or pants — or bring yellow flowers,” she adds.

For my part, let me say this: “Many people have been traumatized by the events of the last 16 months. They either know someone who contracted COVID, lost family members to the virus or suffered financial losses. Tuesday’s community photo will be a great way to reconnect with old friends and look ahead to the future.”

If you would like to participate in the community photo, please call (949) 338-5071.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

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