The truth that there’s a robust debate swirling round Tito Ortiz’s now-vacant seat on the Huntington Seashore Metropolis Council comes as little shock. In spite of everything, within the iconic seaside group politics tends to elicit passionate outcries throughout.
Early this month, simply six months right into a four-year time period, Ortiz came to a council meeting to resign from his elected post. “This job isn’t working for me,” the blended martial arts star instructed his colleagues and the general public.
Now, the remaining half-dozen council members are tasked with selecting his substitute. At a particular assembly final week, they unanimously voted to just accept functions for the place till June 18.
No matter their resolution, it’s certain to attract ire. Three of the council members lean liberal and two reasonable – and all 5 of these had been harsh critics of Ortiz. Just one council member, Erik Peterson, was a constant Ortiz ally.
Given the make-up of the present council it’s doable that Ortiz – nonetheless well-liked in right-wing circles – might be traded out for somebody on the left. It’s an ironic situation that, arguably, would disenfranchise myriad voices.
Ortiz received his election in November with 42,000 votes, making him essentially the most profitable Metropolis Council candidate in metropolis historical past. So it’s additionally doable that even a left-leaning council will choose a substitute who represents the conservative bent of Ortiz’s supporters.
An costly vote?
Ortiz, who was named mayor professional tem at his swearing in, rapidly put himself on the nationwide map as a colourful character who swore off coronavirus vaccinations and masks – with antics reminiscent of slamming a beloved local eatery for its mask mandate on social media.
Then, in April, Huntington Seashore officers discovered Ortiz had filed an unemployment claim against the city despite still collecting his council paychecks.
The fixed media consideration proved a humiliation for a lot of Huntington Seashore. However irrespective of his foibles, Ortiz additionally loved ardent help from many residents.
Peterson bristled at an attempt in February to yank the mayor pro tem’s ceremonial title. His fellow council members, Peterson complained, had been “dragging Tito via the mud.”
Given Ortiz’s decisive and up to date victory, Peterson argued within the June 10 assembly, the emptiness ought to be addressed in a particular election. “It’s the folks’s seat, not the council’s seat,” he mentioned.
Peterson additionally noticed that, not like different metropolis council appointments revamped the previous three many years, this one will fill “principally an entire time period” fairly than only a few straggling months.
Nonetheless, Peterson joined different council members in voting to comply with the procedures laid out by the town’s constitution. Per protocol, the council has 60 days to make an appointment – with no requirement to contemplate earlier election outcomes. If it fails to take action inside that time-frame, the town should maintain a particular election.
A stand-alone election would value about $1 million, Metropolis Supervisor Oliver Chi mentioned in his presentation. Piggy-backing off the upcoming vote on whether or not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom would cut back that value, Chi added, however a date for the statewide election stays unsure.
“Given the logistical maneuvering we must do, we wouldn’t be capable of inform of us when the election would occur,” Chi mentioned.
Within the November election, Ortiz was working to fill one in every of three open seats. Dan Kalmick and Natalie Moser, each Democrats who every received round 30,000 votes, completed second and third and at the moment are on the council.
Peterson steered the fourth-place finisher – Gracey Van Der Mark, who took about 23,000 votes – could possibly be a possible Ortiz substitute.
“Return and have a look at the final election and use the runner up,” Peterson mentioned throughout the June 10 council assembly.
“Yeah, we’re supposed to choose (in response to the constitution),” he added. “However the folks already picked for us.”
Nonetheless, Van Der Mark would arrive together with her personal set of controversies fairly than as a chilled proxy.
Amongst different incidents, Van Der Mark attended a protest in 2017 that disrupted a racial justice meeting in Santa Monica. Members of the Proud Boys and different alt-right teams had been among the many demonstrators.
After Van Der Mark posted on a YouTube account that “coloured folks had been there doing what the aged Jewish folks instructed them to do,” two college districts ousted her from committees.
In a press release to the Orange County Register a couple of months later, Van Der Mark mentioned, “I described the assembly because it was defined to me by one of many organizers. These had been her phrases and never mine … I remorse not being clearer in my posting.”
Van Der Mark’s background is well-known. One resident instructed the council final week: “If Gracey is appointed, it’s going to be the identical circus Tito was in.”
However many in Huntington Seashore proceed to embrace Van Der Mark and declare that denunciations of her are unfair. “Place Gracey in her rightful place (or) you’re breaking your vows to the residents who stay right here,” one other speaker implored.
Previous to final week’s assembly, the town acquired a whole lot of emails – many in help of Van Der Mark. Nevertheless it’s the council that can make the ultimate resolution in a July assembly.
These can full a web based utility by 5 p.m. Friday, June 17, at huntingtonbeachca.gov or choose up an utility on the Metropolis Clerk’s Workplace at 2000 Primary St., 2nd Flooring. For extra data, contact the Metropolis Supervisor’s Workplace at 714-536-5579 or Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.