Avalon City Council Candidates for Four-Year Term

Oley Olsen (Incumbent)

Oley Olsen

Background: Age 68. Married 41 Years. 2 Adult Children 6 Grandkids. Retired. Lived in Avalon over 50 years. Home Owner 40 Years. Work experience

Worked for the Island Co. for over 30 years. First as a hotel manager, next Vice President, terms as president Hotels, then Vice President Visitor operations, and President of Two Harbor Enterprises. With my wife, started Catalina Vending. Owned Abes Liquor Store for 5 Years. Civic Experience: Member Avalon Community Church. Avalon Lions Club, 2 terms as President, Board member over 30 years. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors over 20 years and twice President. Avalon Hospital Board of Directors 10 years and Chairman for 4 years. Planning Commission 4 years. City Council 3 terms. Avalon High School Football Team water boy for over 15 years.

Education: Graduated Avalon High. Attended Cal State Fullerton

Why Serve: Avalon is a great place to live and raise a family. Avalon is also small enough that one person can make a difference. The new Vons was approved by a 2-1 vote. My family has been here in Avalon for 85 years and I don’t want anything to ruin Avalon. Our Local Coastal Plan insures that any development needs to fit in. No high raises buildings. Housing is a great need in Avalon. By working together I feel that a positive solution is possible. In the past eight years the city has made many improvements for both our residents and visitors. The astro turfed ball field. Making the field available for multiple sports in a day and year round. Working with LA Country and Edison to get the additional de-sal unit to help the drought. The recreation department offerings have grown covering kids to prime timers. We got off Heal the Bays bad list by getting the sewer system fixed and our beaches went from a “F” to “A.”

What is your stance on cruise ships and creating beneficial visitor counts?

Avalon’s only business is the visitor. We need to keep mix of visitor types. Day trippers, i.e., cross channel and cruises ship passengers, overnight, i.e., hotels guests, weeklong stays, i.e., vacation rentals, campers and our second-home owners. All of our guests need service and that need generates jobs. In the off season our cross channel day tripper counts fall off. The cruises ship counts stay about the same year-round. As of today, our service workers have the weekend AND Monday and Tuesday to work. Next year we will add Wednesday to their work week making it a little easier to get be living in Avalon.

Also, for a lot of cruises passengers, this is their first exposure to our Island and their experience will generate a return trip.

Do I want a ship 7 days a week or more than 1 a day? No.  Also tendering limit the size of ship that can call on Avalon.  We will never see a 5,000 passenger ship in our bay.

Yesenia Sarahi De La Rosa

Yesenia Sarahi De La Rosa

Background: I was raised in Avalon by hard-working, immigrant parents. For 35 years, they have contributed to our community’s workforce, as have I since the age of 13. I proudly attended Avalon Schools, K-12, where I was active in student government, team sports, and enrichment opportunities like the Women’s Forum Mentoring Program. After graduating, I attended San Diego Mesa College. Last year, my partner and I became new parents to a baby boy we will raise in Avalon. 

I’m running for City Council because I want a city government that represents ALL of Avalon, especially the working class, and the 68.9% of us that comprise our strong Hispanic community. I’m running for my son, and a desire to create a better Avalon for him. It’s time for my generation to raise our voices and take responsibility for making the changes we want to see.

I am fiercely independent. I serve no special interest. I’m not running for my own personal advancement. If elected, I will show that young people can be strong, smart, capable, leaders and I pledge to honor your trust and work hard every day to represent and serve all of the people of Avalon.

What is your stance on cruise ships and creating beneficial visitor counts? 

I am not against cruise ships, nor am I against our Island profiting off of opportunities that create revenue for our community. What I cannot accept is a cruise line that is one of the biggest polluters in the industry, one that has been fined over $60 million for repeatedly engaging in intentional vessel pollution. How do we know they are not dumping their waste in our waters? We have to fully understand the impact that it will have on our infrastructure and our environment. We have a responsibility to preserve our bay for our family members and our returning guests to love and enjoy.

As part of the working class, I share the concerns of our business community about not being able to provide enough hours for their employees year-round. That’s why I support additional cruise days during the off-season, which is when we need it the most. The Chamber does an amazing job at bringing guests during the busy season. Let’s not exhaust our community’s resources over a cruise line that does not care for us. And let’s find one that is financially and environmentally responsible. We owe it to our community that wakes up every day to keep this city running.  

I support hosting cruise ships in a way that balances our need for the revenue they generate with our responsibility to ensure we are protecting our environment. So instead of partnering with a cruise line that was on the brink of being banned from US Ports, let’s seek partnerships with those that take responsibility and care for the cities they visit, and with those that we know will tip our servers more than $1-$3 at a time.

Lisa Lavelle

Lisa Lavelle

Background: Catalina has been my home since I was four years old.  I attended Avalon Schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade and continued to come home on weekends to work while I attended Cal State University, Long Beach. Life would lead me to a role at the Disneyland Resort where I gained world-class knowledge through Disney’s training programs, particularly in leadership. I moved home in 2009 and worked with a variety of lines of business to help grow the resort-wide idea the Island Co. was working on at the time. In 2010, I was laid off by the Island Company and subsequently worked for different entities where I was able to couple my love of my island home with my previous training and technology to help benefit businesses all over town – most recently as the Director of Operations for three local, small businesses. I’ve served as a City of Avalon Planning Commissioner and currently serve as a board member for the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and Avalon Beautiful. I look forward to bringing a new perspective to the Avalon City Council and would be honored to have your vote. Visit LavelleForAvalon.com for more information and to register to vote.

What is your stance on cruise ships and creating beneficial visitor counts?

I appreciate the value that cruise ships and their guests bring to the island. They represent one of the many ways our economy survives while generating income for residents, businesses, the city, and the harbor. There have been a number of concerns discussed in the arena of cruise ships calling on Avalon recently and while I agree that the ships themselves need better regulation overall to help our environment worldwide, most of the concerns find their root causes in other topics: infrastructure including sewage, water, roads & circulation, noise & pollution, and more. 

Multiple entities are working on some of these changes already with updates to the Mole and service opportunities planned or in the works to help change how guests flow into Avalon. I support the resolution that was recently passed, appreciate weekly ship limits and agree with much of the town regarding the quality of life being valued over financial gain. I trust in the city manager’s & harbor master’s ability to make decisions based on those guidelines. 

I had previously been in support of a more permanent or semi-permanent docking system to allow for greater accessibility for a wider variety of guests but I also value the current tendering system’s ability to place a limit on the number of guests per ship that we can accommodate at any given time. Avalon can be a driving force and proving ground for significant change in the cruise industry which I look forward to leading by continuing to build better relationships with other port cities in California and around the world. I’m encouraged to improve community relations through their charitable outreach via the Carnival Foundation, Disney VoluntEARS, & others to make these relationships more reciprocal and am ready to review wharfage fees and other revenue streams to increase infrastructure funding.

Yolanda “Yoli” Montano

Yolanda “Yoli” Montano

Background: My name is Yolanda “Yoli” Montano and I am announcing my candidacy for a 4-year term to the Avalon City Council. I am requesting your support and vote in the upcoming City Council election on March 3.

I was born and raised on Catalina Island and my family has been here for 5 generations. Currently, I serve as the chair for your Avalon Planning Commission and have been on the commission for the past 7 years. For the past 10 years, I have been the general manager of the Hotel Metropole, I have also served as a board member on the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce for 3 years. I am married and have two children that I have raised here on Catalina Island. I have served on Site Council and the PTA at Avalon Schools. I have served on the Board of the Women’s Forum, Humane Society, and Catalina Island Medical Center Foundation. I have been an avid rider my entire life and have served on the board for the Catalina Island Saddle Club. I consider it my honor to have served and been continuously involved in our community. I am available for your concerns and input daily here on the Island. Or by email at yoli@catalinaisp.com. 

What is your stance on cruise ships and creating beneficial visitor counts?

We have numerous issues that face our city and community and we need a fresh prospective on many of these issues. While we all enjoy our island, I believe it is important to have a vibrant business community that provides good paying jobs to all who work and live here. The cruise industry helps many employers keep full time employees year-round. 

We all want our restaurants and shops open all year round, without many of these cruise ship visitors, this would not be possible in the winter months. While cruise ship passengers do not bring my particular business customers on a daily basis, they do introduce visitors that may not have ever experienced the charm that Catalina Island and Avalon offers, and many will return to stay in the future. The wharfage fees and taxes from restaurants and shops help our city provide services to our community, but overnight visitors that pay the T.O.T. tax of 12% along with all the other taxes from food services and shopping provide the vast majority of our City’s budget. Visitors that do come to stay overnight only do so because there are businesses open for their use and enjoyment. I know cruise ship visitors have been a hot button issue as of late, we all need to remember, they help employ our citizens and usually depart our Island every afternoon at 4 p.m. Visitors to our island are what allows the majority of our community to live and work here. It would behoove us to treat all visitors as wanted guests and remember that their money is what supports our households. 

Joe Sampson

Joe Sampson

Background: My education and qualifications to be a City Councilmember rest in my 58 years as a resident and contributing member of our community. I am a successful business owner/operator. I have a charitable, unbiased and unconflicted heart for what is true and right for Avalon, the City I was born and raised in.

I am a returning City Councilmember and part of the Council team responsible for many assets the City helped develop during my first 4-year term in office. These include Desalination Plant #2, artificial turf at Joe Machado Field, the new Von’s store, and the science to correct the loss of South Beach from further sand movement. This needs to be implemented ASAP!

I will stand up and fight for the people! I hold my staff to the highest level of responsibility for you. I will be the voice that has been absent long enough. When indignities have been cast out on the good people of Avalon through giant corporate greed, I will continue to be the voice that is not afraid to lead Avalon into a new era.

I will respectfully represent my constituency. Please Vote for Joe Sampson-A True Leader! 

What is your stance on cruise ships and creating beneficial visitor counts?

We have generally benefited from cruise ships to help create visitor counts for the City of Avalon. However, the harmony and balance of business interests with our quality of life and environmental issues has been ignored and seriously neglected by Chamber President Jim Luttjohann and City Manager Denise Radde. 

For one example, I was on our City Council from 2014 to 2018. In 2016 Mr. Luttjohann was directed by us to take all steps to make sure our Verizon and AT&T communications infrastructure was upgraded to accommodate the demands of existing and possible future cruise ships. We were having serious lapses in cell phone and internet coverage back then and it is much worse today! 

Why did Mr. Luttjohann ignore the direction of our City Council? As City Manager, why did Mrs. Radde not follow up on Mr. Luttjohann over that important quality of life Council directive instead of ignoring it? 

In late 2019 Mr. Luttjohann and Mrs. Radde personally negotiated and finalized the deal for a third Carnival cruise ship without the knowledge, direction or consent of our City Council. They both used their positions to evade the direction and oversight of our City Council and Voters in Avalon. Why do they think we have a City Council?

Is City Manager Radde on such a desperate timeline to increase City revenue that she is willing to seriously sacrifice the quality of life and environment in our City? 

It’s not a question of business interests vs quality of life issues in Avalon. This is a matter of ensuring that business and quality of life issues are openly discussed and balanced so that the needs of all members of our community are represented.

If I am elected, I will guarantee that all members of our community will be represented equally.