I have lived with my wife Shannon in Salado since 1991, and we are long time members of First Baptist Salado. Our daughter Addie is a sophomore at Salado HS. I am a LT with the Temple police department where I have worked for 23 years, and a veteran of the U.S Army. I served as the Temple PD Public Information Officer for four years. I was one of the first Aldermen elected in 2000 when Salado first incorporated. I helped establish the Salado Police Department, helped build a playground in Pace Park and worked to establish an emergency plan. After 4 years as Alderman, I was elected to Mayor and served two terms leaving in 2008. During my term as Mayor, the Village grew its Village limits and ETJ. The Village also bought and moved into a new municipal building. The building was paid off on the last day of my term as Mayor. I also led the response and recovery efforts after the 2007 major flood in the Village.
I have served on the board of directors and as president of a statewide police organization with thousands of members. I also served on the executive committee of the Central Texas Council of Governments.
I believe my past experience with the Village government will be a great benefit in this time of major challenges facing the Village. I have a wide and varied leadership background and a proven ability to work with diverse groups to solve problems.
I have always said that it was an honor and privilege to serve as Mayor of Salado and I look forward to serving in the future.
Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not? (200 word limit)
Yes, I believe that it has been working well having the city manager in the office. As to keeping CTCOG, I would extend that contract through the selling of the Municipal Enhancement Bond and getting the sewer system started to avoid disrupting the process. Long term I would like to hire someone full time for Salado that would be working just for the village. CTCOG could help us in that search for a qualified person to take that position. By bringing someone in full time we could expand their duties and responsibilities. Contracting with CTCOG was a pilot program that allowed Salado to bring in a city manager in a way that was affordable, and allowed us to determine if having a city manager would be right for Salado. That situation was never meant to be a long term.
Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)
The Village currently provides money in its budget for Tourism to help pay for advertising. We need to keep those funds available and consider increasing the amount during the construction period. The second area in which the Village could help is to keep in contact with TXDOT to insure that there is adequate signage on I-35, to help travelers can find the exits into the Village. With the increased traffic through downtown we also need to make sure that we keep Main Street well maintained and safe for our citizens and visitors alike.
Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the mayor in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the Mayor and other aldermen and between the mayor and the city administrator and other staff? What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)
The Mayor has numerous duties and responsibilities and varies based upon the priorities of the person in office. The Mayor is the face of the Village, its chief spokesman and salesman. The Mayor is the chief executive of the Village government as well as part of the Board of Aldermen. As the chief executive the Mayor is responsible for the activities of the Village employees, but the direct supervision and administrative duties should be handled by the city manager. The Mayor leads the Board and sets the agenda but the Board makes final decisions. As to setting goals, when I was Mayor, as part of our budget process we would first have goal setting sessions. We would set short and long term goals and review our last year’s goals to check progress. I believe that this is very important and that it is the Mayor’s job to lead the Board through this process for the best outcome.
Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan? (200 words)
The Village wrote a very detailed Comprehensive Plan several years ago. There were many different groups that contributed to the plan and extensive input was taken from the citizens. I would review the plan yearly as part of the goal setting process to track progress or make changes as needed. I see no need to start a new plan, but rather update the plan in place and make improvements. I believe it is absolutely necessary we utilize the Comprehensive Plan we have for the Village to help the Board make more informed decisions about the future of the Village.
Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)
The number one goal is to get the sewer system in place. This will allow the downtown and the west side to bring in more business and lift the whole Village. We are already on track to get that done and as Mayor my plan would be to aggressively guide the process through working with the stakeholders to get the project completed. Second would be to get the Village municipality better organized and achieve overall better function. This includes getting a full time city manager. CTCOG could help guide us through the process to find the right person for Salado. I think we need to address the housing for the Village offices and Police. We should look at both buildings we own and design a better use of the space. I would like to get our Board on track to set goals and update plans during our budget process. When I was Mayor before, the Board and I would meet and set short and long term goals right before we started the budget process. The last goal would be to establish regular meetings with the heads of all the groups and organizations in Salado so we can support each other and seek better use of our resources.
Question 6: Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)
Rick Ashe Answer: I do not have specific numbers to say if the growth is slower than in the past, but in general, growth has slowed from the 2008 downturn in the economy. Over the last 15 years since I have been involved with the incorporation of the Village of Salado, I have watched businesses open and close in the area many different times. I believe the best things the Village can do is to provide good infrastructure, a safe and clean environment for our visitors, and have government policies that help foster business growth. There are many factors that affect growth that are outside the control of the Village, but we should work on the areas we can control. There are many challenges to the Village that keep us from growing, including the fact that we do not provide a sewer system, that we cannot annex properties unless the owners request to be annexed, and that we are slowly being surrounded by other cities. I believe we are on the verge of being able to do good things and grow the Village in a way that would make the citizens of Salado proud. We can overcome these problems and set Salado on a path for growth in the future.
Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)
Rick Ashe Answer: Roads have always been an issue with the Village. Historically, we’ve come a long way since we had the Bell County Weekend Release Inmates filling the potholes with cold mix. We do not have the money to repair roads at the rate that they need repairs. We have used several different types of repair and companies to do the work. This will continue to get worse in the upcoming years unless we make changes. The BOA has over the years made priority decisions on which repairs need to be made. I would like to review and update the list of roads that need to be repaired, while also looking at the types of repairs we are making. This is a tough issue that is going to require some hard choices over the next few years. I would also like to get input from the Village on what level of road repairs they will accept and at what cost.
Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)
Rick Ashe Answer: The Village only has one public park now, Pace Park. Currently the Village maintenance employee is in charge of maintaining and cleaning the park. The Village does rent the park out at a reasonable rate so there is some income from the park; however, we need to look at the fee structure to see if it is still in line with the costs. When I was an Alderman we built the playground in the park for younger children. I am very proud of the work we did and the fundraising efforts with a group of parents who came together to accomplish our goal: a safe and beautiful playground for our kids. I would like to look at updating the facilities in the park as well as possibly adding a splash pad or other water feature.
Question 9: Will you as Mayor work with the Aldermen to bring to the voters a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system? (300 words)
Rick Ashe Answer: Yes, I believe that the sewer system is important to the Village and its future. It will be imperative that the Mayor and BOA be fully on board and support the sewer system. It will be important for the Mayor to explain and educate the Village voters on the need for the sewer system and how it will benefit all the citizens of the Village. I would actively promote and advocate for the bond issue and would go to as many groups as possible to talk about the bond election. This is a very important issue for the Village and the Mayor and the BOA should lead the way on this issue.
Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)
Rick Ashe Answer: I would say that there are challenges to the government that need to be addressed. We are a very limited type of government with low taxes and limited services. This puts a strain on our government to try and provide the best Village for the citizens with limited resources. This is not insurmountable if we prioritize what we want the Village to provide to its citizens. The main area that I would focus on is getting the Village leadership working together by keeping the BOA and employees focused on what we need to get done. The primary job of the Mayor is to guide the BOA and employees of the Village: to provide leadership and vision for the Village. Having a city administrator will facilitate with the technical aspects of governing and provide us with expertise to help the BOA make decisions. Over the past 15 years the Village has made great strides and I believe with guidance from me as Mayor and working with the BOA we can continue moving forward.
Question 11: Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)
Rick Ashe Answer: I would say the main reason to vote for me is my proven ability to work within a government system. I have spent my entire career working for city governments, including but not limited to, public speaking and networking, and I understand the system well. As one of the first Aldermen and a two term Mayor, I have a unique understanding of the Village and its inner workings. Over the years I have kept up with the issues of the Village. I am a practical and realistic person, but also a visionary. As President Reagan said, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” With my knowledge and experience I would be able to assume the duties on day one with little transition issues. While I do have a full time job, my schedule allows me to have two or three days a week to dedicate to the Village. I believe that Salado is poised for great things and that my experience and abilities would be a benefit to the Village as Mayor of Salado and I ask for your support and vote.
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