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Huntington Beach City Council to consider removal of Tito Ortiz as Mayor Pro Tem

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Tito Ortiz
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Tito Ortiz’s political career may have hit a snag.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer was elected to city council of Huntington Beach, Calif. (Ortiz’s hometown) in November and designated Mayor Pro Tem on Dec. 7.

The Pro Tem position means that Ortiz is to serve as mayor in the event that the current mayor is unable to perform their duties for whatever reason. Ortiz would also be in line to become mayor after one year of service.

However, on Thursday, a motion was presented by Mayor Kim Carr and council members Mike Posey and Dan Kalmick to remove Ortiz from his role as Mayor Pro Tem. Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

See the item below:

The opening of the statement reads as follows:

On December 7th, Council Member Tito Ortiz was selected unanimously by his fellow council members to serve in a leadership role as Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Huntington Beach. Unfortunately, Mr. Ortiz has failed to perform at a level expected for this position and has demonstrated little commitment to serving in the role with honor and dignity. His unprofessional demeanor and poor judgement have raised concerns among residents, local business owners, and his fellow council members. The Huntington Beach community expects local elected officials to take their governing responsibilities seriously and we whole heartedly agree.

Under recommended action, the council is being asked to conduct a vote of no confidence in Ortiz, remove him from his leadership role as Mayor Pro Tem, and identify an alternate member to serve as Mayor Pro Tem for the remainder of 2021.

Councilman Kalmick told the Los Angeles Times that Ortiz is not to fit to replace Carr should a situation come up where Ortiz had to do so.

“Realistically, if Kim gets sick and she can’t perform, Tito is in no position to take over and run our meetings,” Kalmick said. “He’s been not interested in learning how to do the job. He was a no-show, no-call for meetings this week for subcommittees that he helps make the quorum on, so those meetings are not held. I mean, we’ve reached our hand out to try to help make him successful in every way, and he has not taken that hand.”

Ortiz’s brief time on council has been marked by public conflicts and awkward moments, several of which have been documented by Twitter user @FullContactMTWF.

The 46-year-old’s first council session saw Ortiz make several errors as well as engage in a spat with a fellow member of the council over mask-wearing, which Ortiz has publicly rallied against.

Ortiz, a stout Republican and longtime supporter of former president Donald Trump, made further headlines when he was recorded arguing with constituent and community activist Victor Valladares. The incident occurred at a Christmas meal donation event that took place on school district property.

An Orange County Register account of the incident referred to Ortiz as “a colorful local celebrity who promotes coronavirus conspiracy theories.” As of Jan. 28, Orange County stats show over 220,000 cumulative cases with 2,868 deaths.

Ocean View School District member Gina Clayton-Tarvin told CBS Los Angeles, “Having close contact with little children like [Ortiz] did today and leaning into strollers and into car windows with no mask on is unacceptable to us. This is a public health emergency.”

Ortiz noted on social media that he has been denied in-person access to council meetings due to his refusal to move a mask.

In addition to the tension with his fellow council members, Ortiz has also received criticism from Huntington Beach constituents who have called in to council meetings.

On Jan. 19, in the wake of the attack on Capitol Hill, a caller expressed dismay over Ortiz being part of Huntington Beach City Council, citing several incidents including Ortiz condemning a local restaurant for refusing to serve him because he was not wearing a mask.

“I’m frustrated that we have a city council member that repeats conspiracy theories and disinformation,” the caller said. “I’m also disturbed that as a leader for our city, he would publicly shame a local restaurant for enforcing mask-wearing and would choose to sit out of a city meeting for this same reason.

“What are his priorities? To serve our community or to grandstand and politicize policies to protect the public health? Our local leadership should demonstrate their commitment to our common values, a zero tolerance to violence and white supremacy, and a commitment to facts and truth.”

Should Ortiz be removed as Mayor Pro Tem, it is possible that he will still remain on city council in another role.

“He’s become a huge distraction from moving policy forward within the city,” Kalmick told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t believe he represents the majority of our council, and therefore we’re asking the majority of our council to remove him from a leadership role. He still is welcome to serve on our council and all of that, but at this point, we’re not interested in having him serve in that role.”

The voting to address Ortiz’s future with the city council is scheduled to take place on the evening of Monday, Feb. 1.