Photo via Kathy Hutchins

In Southern California, Huntington Beach’s Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz will keep his position after the council decided to table a vote of no confidence, in an attempt to strip him of his title.

After hearing hours of public comments and passionate pleas from council members, the council tabled the vote early in the morning of Feb. 2 and allowed Ortiz to retain his position, under the condition his behavior improves. 

“I want to thank each and every one of you,” Ortiz said as the council tabled the vote. 

“I apologize if I let anybody down. I think I just let myself down because I went on defensive mode from the very beginning, and I shouldn’t have done that. I will work harder, and I will try not to miss meetings as hard as I possibly can,” he said.

The former UFC Champion was voted into Huntington Beach City Council less than two months ago and he accrued more votes than any politician in the city’s history. He was also unanimously given the title of Mayor Pro Tem by the council five weeks ago.

“I’ve been Pro Tem for five weeks. You guys never even gave me an opportunity,” Ortiz said in his defense. 

Mayor Kim Carr, Councilman Mike Posey and Councilman Dan Kalmick wrote and proposed the vote against Ortiz. Carr said she is focused on Ortiz’s “proclivity to lie and unavailability to fill in for me”, as it pertains to his position. 

Ortiz holds the largely ceremonious title and it means he would fill in for the mayor if needed. He also runs council meetings, which other council members claimed he is unable to do. 

COMMUNITY CONCERN

Before the vote, the council took three hours worth of emotional comments from community members, many of which expressed their views regarding Ortiz. 

Over 20 of Ortiz’s supporters demanded the councilmembers cancel the vote, calling it a “power grab” by a democrat heavy council. Ortiz has been known not to wear a mask and confidently endorses former President Trump. Several speakers said they felt this vote was an attempt to “take away the voices” of conservatives in their community.

An Ortiz supporter called to say, “You won’t cancel Tito because the citizens of this city stand behind him.” Many voices began to chant Tito’s name into the phone in an effort to convey the fervent support Ortiz has despite his controversial nature. 

Nearly 30 people spoke in favor of the no-confidence vote labeling Ortiz a “radical” who reinforces “anti-public health views”. Many also brought up his refusal to wear a mask at a local restaurant and disapproved of the way he took to social media to express his disagreement, calling him “an embarrassment” to Huntington Beach.

One concerned resident said, “how many people have to die for you to care, Councilman Ortiz? It’s time to do the right thing [and wear a mask].” 

The restaurant he put on blast two weeks ago was TK Burger, a popular Huntington Beach hangout. Ortiz complained on his Instagram story that the joint refused him service due to his decision not to wear a mask saying, “you lose my business, you lose H.B. ‘s business”. Two days later, Ortiz deleted the stories and apologized.

“We have been going there over the last 10 years. I never had to wear a mask to order takeout.” Ortiz said. “I let my emotions get the best of me. I understand this is a small business and I would never want to ruin that business. I apologize to TK Burgers for my decision.” 

FINAL WORDS

Several council members wanted to give Ortiz a chance to alter his behavior and become a better leader, including council members Barbara Delgleize and Erik Peterson.

“We don’t all have [experience] and sometimes a fresh voice from outside is good. He has to learn his way of doing it. Let him learn right now,” said Peterson.

Mayor Kim and many of the council members agreed that giving Ortiz another chance to prove himself was in the best interest of the city. 

“If we continue to have an open dialogue and engage with each other, then we might not have to bring it up in six weeks,” Kim said after the vote was tabled. 

She later said the authors of the item can bring this concern back to the agenda when they see fit. 

Written ByAshley Grams

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