Ponce shares views on some key issues

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Candidate who was unable to attend forum weighs in

On Tuesday, residents of Avalon will decide who their Mayor will be for the next two years and who will hold two council seats for the next four years. Mayor Anni Marshall is facing a challenge from council member Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy.

Michael Ponce is looking to extend the half term he won with a re-election for another four-year term. Former councilmember Oley Olsen is looking to get back on the council with one of the two seats available, along with Mary Schickling and Carl Johnson, who are also vying for one of the two available seats.

The candidates brought their ideas to the public during a town hall candidate forum on May 24 at Avalon City Hall. Ponce had to withdraw from the forum at the last minute due to illness. In the offer of fairness, Ponce was offered a chance to weigh in on some of the key issues via a phone interview after the forum.

One of the biggest issues facing Avalon and one of the most discussed at the forum regarded workforce housing for island workers who need stable affordable housing for year-round employment. Ponce said that the issue has been discussed for years, but taking action has been essentially put off.

“It’s always been on the back burner,” Ponce said.

Recently, however, he noted that there has been a more concerted effort to begin to take steps toward addressing the issue. One thing he thinks the council can quickly put into action is converting the Whitley Avenue property into permanent housing.

“That would be the biggest step this council has ever done,” Ponce said.

With regards to the aging landfill and need for alternatives, Ponce said that revamping how the city handles recyclables could be a big step in alleviating the pressure on the landfill.

“We need to figure out how to keep more recyclable items out of the landfill,” Ponce said.

Another issue the candidates seemed united on, was the issue and future of golf carts. While the idea of transitioning to electric carts is something everyone would like to see, there are big hurdles to get there. One of those is the idea of providing ways for residents to charge the vehicles. Ponce said that one idea he’d like to pursue is partnering with Southern California Edison on installing charging stations that. There is also the issue of antiquated records and enforcement of permits, which Ponce agreed, has been an issue in all of his 26 years on the island.

“It’s something that has to be looked at,” Ponce said of the cart issues.

Measure S

Residents will also decide whether or not to impose a .25 percent sales tax increase with a yes vote on Measure S. The quarter percent sales tax increase would be in effect until repealed by a vote in a future election. It is estimated that the increase would bring an additional $250,000 to the city per year.

Measure TT

Measure TT is an increase on the Transient Occupancy Tax by 1 percent with a yes vote. The increase would be in effect for 10 years and will bring in an estimated $500,000 to the city’s general fund.